‘The race was about Kari, and that was fine with us’: Hobbs team details victorious strategy

Hobbs is seen as a moderate and disciplined candidate with experience to lead the Grand Canyon State and without threatening to undo its success.

By Stacey Barchenger || Arizona Republic

In a swanky room at Phoenix Country Club, Democrat Katie Hobbs mingled one-on-one with some of Arizona’s prominent Republican businesspeople and donors.

She stayed beyond her scheduled time onstage, talking about keeping taxes low and sharing her admiration for the economic prosperity seen under Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s leadership. The event hosts included two sons of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain and many Ducey allies.

What they saw in Hobbs was a moderate and disciplined candidate with experience to lead the Grand Canyon State and without threatening to undo its success.

“She comes off with great sincerity, she’s not flamboyant, she’s steady, she’s focused,” said one host, Sharon Harper, president of the commercial real estate firm Plaza Companies and chair of Ducey’s re-election campaign four years ago. “She was very commanding in how she spoke.”

As Hobbs was making a direct appeal to people across the political aisle, her Republican opponent in the race, Kari Lake, was about 20 miles away at a Chandler restaurant, taunting Hobbs for a lack of “courage” to debate her face-to-face. 

That mid-September evening paints a portrait of two exceedingly different campaigns — one focused on growing support, while the other spoke to the GOP base; one practical and almost dull at times, while the other traded in grievance politics and celebrity — and illustrates how Hobbs pulled off a stunning win that will return a Democrat to the Governor’s Office for the first time since 2009. 

The victory was razor-thin, the gap between Lake and Hobbs settled at less than 1 percentage point, and saw Lake performing better than many other Republicans at the top of the ticket, including U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters.

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