Katie Hobbs/Gage Skidmore
By Stacey Barchenger Arizona Republic
The race for Arizona’s next governor has come into focus, with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs capturing the Democratic slot by a wide margin, and former television anchor Kari Lake climbing into a narrow lead for the Republican nomination.
Though the Republican race was too close to officially call, Lake declared victory on Wednesday afternoon as ballots cast on election day were counted and pushed her ahead of opponent Karrin Taylor Robson’s advantage among early voters.
“We are so proud of the movement,” Lake said during a news conference Wednesday. “We are so proud of the victory we have, and we are going to lead this state to its brightest days ahead.”
A spokesman for Taylor Robson declined to comment about Lake declaring victory with the race yet to be called.
No matter who is the nominee on the Republican side, Arizonans in November are poised to elect their fifth female governor, more than another other state in the country.
If Lake secures the nomination, the sprint to November’s general election will pit one of the state’s loudest 2020 election deniers, Lake, and its chief defender, Hobbs.
Hobbs, 52, said in a victory speech Tuesday to supporters gathered at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix that she sought to move past the election two years ago.
“Let me start by saying it’s great to be in a room with people who are more focused on the upcoming election than spreading conspiracy theories about the last one,” she said. “To be clear the 2020 election was very important, but this one is even bigger.”
Lake, 52, said in comments on election night and on Wednesday that she would not change her stance on the 2020 election, which she believes was stolen and would not have certified. Lake said last week her campaign had evidence of “stealing” in this cycle that would be reported to authorities.
She reiterated that Wednesday, but Lake and her campaign attorney, Tim LaSota, pointed to non-criminal election issues like a shortage of ballots in Pinal County when speaking about the current cycle.