Kari Lake cuts into Katie Hobbs’ lead in Arizona governor’s race, but Lake’s path to victory now harder

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Democrat Katie Hobbs held a slim lead over Republican challenger Kari Lake on Sunday as the number of ballots left to count shrinks, making a path to victory for Lake more difficult.

Hobbs led Lake by just over 26,000 votes on Sunday night, with a slim 1 percentage point gap between the two. The race was still too close to call, meaning the suspense will continue.

The course of the day Sunday, with more vote counts coming in across the state, saw Lake whittle away at Hobbs’ lead, which at one point Sunday was 36,000 votes.

Lake gained ground among Maricopa County voters, where officials reported a big update of 97,000 votes in the evening. Lake won the majority of those, over 54%, eating into Hobbs’ lead in the county and cutting it from about 57,000 votes to 48,500.

In a ballot count update from Maricopa County on Saturday, which included ballots dropped off on election day, Lake won 52% and Hobbs won 48%.

Yet as the remaining number of ballots left to count dwindles, Lake’s path to surpassing Hobbs’ statewide advantage becomes more difficult — though not impossible.

Nicole DeMont, Hobbs’ campaign manager, in a statement on Sunday noted Hobbs has stayed ahead of Lake since Election Day, and “it’s clear that this won’t change.”

“With the latest tabulation results from Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, Katie Hobbs is the unequivocal favorite to become the next governor of Arizona,” the statement read.

Prior to Sunday’s big ballot update in Maricopa County, Lake needed to win 56% of statewide ballots left outstanding. After the update, she needed to win more than 58%.

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Pima County, Arizona’s second largest and home to Tucson, added about 12,000 votes to its totals, which Hobbs won 60% to Lake’s 40%. It helped Hobbs slightly widen her lead, inching the gap between candidates to 1.6 percentage points, before Maricopa County’s latest results tempered that.

Officials in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, have less than 100,000 ballots left to count. The statewide total is about 160,000, according to statistics posted by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Katie Hobbs (left) and Kari LakeKatie Hobbs (left) and Kari Lake

Katie Hobbs (left) and Kari Lake

Candidates ask for patience

Hobbs, 52, is Arizona’s secretary of state and a former state lawmaker. She ran a campaign for governor on pledges to defend democracy — as she did following the 2020 election, receiving threats as a result — and restore abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

Lake, 53, is a former television news anchor who zoomed into the national spotlight and several Saturday Night Live sketches as she adhered to false claims of widespread election fraud championed by former President Donald Trump. Lake spent 22 years as part of an anchor duo on Phoenix’s Fox 10 station. She has made border security, election reform and a “tough love” homelessness policy central to her campaign.

Both candidates urged their supporters to stay patient as the vote counting continues, though Lake also has cast doubt on the length of the process and elections procedures.

“Spirits on Team Hobbs are high and we’re going to stay the course, be patient and let our local election officials do their jobs without fear or interference,” Hobbs said in a video posted on social media Saturday night.

Lake said in an appearance on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo she was confident she would win the race.

“We need to get in there and restore faith in our elections, we can’t be the laughingstock of elections anymore here in Arizona,” she told Bartiromo.

Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger at stacey.barchenger@arizonarepublic.com or 480-416-5669. Follow her on Twitter @sbarchenger.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona governor election results: Kari Lake cuts Katie Hobbs’ lead