In spotlight of audit, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announces run for Arizona governor

Andrew Oxford
Arizona Republic
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced Wednesday that she will seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for Arizona governor in 2022.

Hobbs was widely expected to enter the race to succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey after his second term ends. 

In launching her campaign, Hobbs sought to cast herself as someone who could “get the job done" — the theme of her campaign launch video that cuts from news reports about death threats she has received since the last election to national television appearances defending Arizona's election system.

And in launching her campaign this week, Hobbs has the backdrop of an unprecedented and behind-schedule effort by the state Senate to seize and recount each of Maricopa County’s ballots along with the Legislature’s two-week recess as Republican leaders try to wrangle their restive caucuses into a budget agreement.

“We’ve seen lots of examples in the last year where government hasn’t worked for the people of Arizona. And certainly, voters I’m talking to across the state, they want leaders who are going to roll up their sleeves and get to work and solve real problems,” Hobbs said in an interview.

“And that is not what we’re seeing with the Legislature right now. They just abandoned their jobs for two weeks because they couldn’t get it done.”

While her role overseeing the last election and her criticism of the Senate’s audit has made Hobbs a target of former President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters, she is using that criticism to contrast herself with Republican leaders in the state consumed by infighting over Trump’s defeat and conspiracy theories about his loss.

“We’ve got this state government being run by conspiracy theorists right now. They are out of touch with everyday Arizonans and that’s holding us back as a state,” she said.

The undertaking has boosted her profile, though, making her a regular guest on national television as the world has sought to understand why Arizona is counting ballots more than six months after Election Day.

The publicity could help. Hobbs won the secretary of state's office in 2018 by just about 20,000 votes, or a little less than 1 percentage point. She could run for a second term, which could keep her in a high-profile role amid an ongoing battle over voting rights in the state. Her office has staked out different positions from the attorney general, for example, in arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold a lower court’s decision to strike down two state voting laws in a case that could have much broader ramifications for the Voting Rights Act.

Hobbs started in Arizona Legislature

Hobbs previously served in the Legislature from 2010 to 2018.

In launching her campaign, Hobbs pointed to legislation she worked on that became law in the Republican-dominated Capitol.

Hobbs cosponsored the Opioid Epidemic Act of 2018, which was aimed at stopping drug abuse. Her campaign's launch video features footage of her shaking hands with Ducey after he signed it into law.

She also pointed to a bill she co-sponsored in 2017 aimed at eliminating a backlog of sexual assault evidence.

But it was also during Hobbs' time in leadership that the Senate fired a Democratic aide, who went on to win a discrimination lawsuit against the legislative chamber. Hobbs later apologized and said she “should have been a stronger ally” to the aide.

Outside of politics, Hobbs is a social worker. She has a bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University and master's of social work from Arizona State University. She was born in Phoenix, graduated from Seton Catholic Preparatory High School, is married and has two children.

Hobbs joins the race for governor as the field gets increasingly crowded.

Former Nogales Mayor Marco López already announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination.

Meanwhile, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee and Karrin Taylor Robson, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, were the first high-profile Republicans to enter the race.

And so far, the race for governor in 2022 appears to be playing out in part under the shadow of the presidential election. Both prominent Republicans featured national politics in launching their campaigns, with Yee in particular touting her support for Trump.

They were joined Tuesday by Republican Kari Lake, a former news anchor on Fox 10 who likely will draw on local celebrity as well as a resonance with many of the voters who believe Trump’s claims about the last election.

Contact Andrew Oxford at andrew.oxford@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter at @andrewboxford.

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