As close as it gets: Why Arizona’s attorney general race is one of tightest in state history

Democrat Kris Mayes leads the attorney general’s race by about 850 votes over Republican Abe Hamadeh. Screenshot || Azfamily

By Tara Kavaler || Arizona Republic

Arizona’s attorney general’s race is one of the closest-ever statewide races in the Grand Canyon State and is the only major contest that doesn’t yet have a winner called.

Out of approximately 2.51 million ballots cast, Democrat Kris Mayes leads the attorney general’s race by about 850 votes over Republican Abe Hamadeh as of Saturday evening. That’s a difference of about 0.034 percentage points, well within the margin of a 0.5 percent point or less difference that initiates a recount.

The results in the attorney general race are so close, analysts say, because of the down-ballot nature of the race and that voters did not link Hamadeh to Trump and election denialism in the same way they did with other Republican candidates who ultimately were unsuccessful. That’s despite Trump’s endorsement of Hamadeh, who has said Joe Biden didn’t legitimately win Arizona in 2020.

Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the only general election race he recalls coming this close was Proposition 112 in 2010, which would have moved up the signature deadline for ballot measures by two months. Out of the approximately 1.6 million votes cast, the ballot measure lost by 194. It went to a recount, but the outcome of the race did not change.

According to Brooks Simpson, foundation professor of history at Arizona State University, “you can’t get closer” than the 1916 gubernatorial race. Back then, Republican Thomas E. Campbell was initially declared the winner. After a recount that took almost a year, Democratic Gov. George W.P. Hunt had 43 more votes.


The only other statewide race to go to a recount was the 1994 Democratic primary for Senate, between then-U.S. Rep. Sam Coppersmith and then-Secretary of State Richard Mahoney. Coppersmith won by 132 votes.


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November 2022