Hobbs cuts Gaynor’s lead in secretary race
The race for Arizona secretary of state tightened Thursday, after Maricopa County released the results of about 130,000 previously uncounted ballots.
Republican businessman Steve Gaynor has held a lead over Democrat Katie Hobbs since Tuesday, but the lead dropped by more than half with the new Maricopa County ballots and additional ballots from Pima County.
He was up by about 44,000 votes earlier Thursday, but Hobbs cut that to about 20,500. There are about 460,000 uncounted ballots, according to an analysis by The Arizona Republic. About 350,000 of those are in Maricopa County.
The Associated Press called the race for Gaynor on Tuesday night, but he hasn’t declared victory outright.
“It’s a close race,” Gaynor told supporters on Tuesday. “We’re going to fight to the end, and hopefully, when the race is called, we’ll be victorious.”
Hobbs’ campaign criticized the Associated Press for the projection given the thin margin and hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.
In Arizona, the secretary of state is the No. 2 statewide-elected official, next in line to succeed the governor if he or she leaves office early. That has happened four times since the late 1970s.
The secretary of state’s primary duty is managing the statewide elections system, which has faced a string of problems in recent years.
Gaynor has said his business experience has prepared him for the job, calling the Secretary of State’s Office a “classic turnaround.” He owns a printing plant in California and spent more than $2.3 million of his own fortune in the race.
During the campaign, Gaynor talked little about ballot access. He instead focused on his concerns about hypothetical fraud and unsubstantiated allegations that unauthorized immigrants could be voting.
Substantiated cases of voter fraud are rare. Since 2008, about 20 people have been convicted in Arizona for voting twice in an election — a period that’s seen more than 16 million votes cast, according to data from the state.
If Gaynor’s lead holds, it would be a major blow to Democrats who spent more than $2 million to try to get Hobbs elected. Many viewed the secretary of state’s race as their best chance for a major statewide win.
During the campaign, Hobbs and Gaynor regularly traded barbs over who has the right experience to manage elections.
Hobbs, the minority leader in the Arizona Senate, focused her campaign on proposals to improve voting access. She said the state needs to remove barriers that can make it hard for minorities, seniors and lowincome people to vote.
“I think every American should want every American to be able to vote,” Hobbs said during the campaign.
Gaynor defeated incumbent Secretary of State Michele Reagan in the GOP primary, a race that was defined by his attacks on her missteps administering elections.
On Election Day, Reagan said she looked forward to working with whoever wins the race.
“I want to get in whoever wins early, and maybe even have them to our holiday party,” she said during an interview on KTAR. “I wish someone would have done that for me. I am going to walk out of there with my head held high.”
Candidates for secretary of state are Democrat Katie Hobbs, left, and Republican Steve Gaynor.