Arizona Rejected MAGA Candidates For Senate And Governor

The critical swing state went for former president Donald Trump in 2016 and then President Joe Biden in 2020.

The 2022 midterm elections have been a huge success for Democrats in Arizona, as they retained the Senate seat and turned the governor’s office blue.

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs won her race against Republican Kari Lake, and incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly was reelected, defeating Republican candidate Blake Masters.

Decision Desk HQ called Katie Hobbs as the projected winner in the Arizona gubernatorial race on Nov. 14 at 8:50 p.m. ET.

Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly was projected to be the winner of the Arizona Senate race on Nov. 11 at 10:08 p.m. ET.

The state, which voted for former president Donald Trump in 2016 and then President Joe Biden in 2020, was at the center of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. On Tuesday, voters had a chance to embrace Trumpism with two Republicans who followed his playbook or to stick with the Democrats who had proudly — but barely — turned the state blue.

The Senate race between Kelly and Masters was one of the most watched races in the country.

Kelly, the husband of former Congress member Gabby Giffords, first took office in 2020 as a result of a special election after the death of former senator John McCain. It became the first time since 1953 that Arizona had two Democrats in the Senate — Kelly and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

As he came up for reelection, the former navy pilot and astronaut focused his campaign on making healthcare more affordable, protecting abortion rights, creating more jobs, increasing wages in Arizona, and funding federal benefits like Social Security and Medicare.

Masters, a 36-year-old first-time candidate, focused on issues that aligned with the broader GOP messaging for the 2022 midterms, such as reducing crime, controlling the border, increasing spending for the US military, and supporting restrictions on abortion.

Masters also campaigned on putting an end to overall “wokeness,” per his campaign website, and during the Republican primary, he described abortion as a form of “genocide.”

The governor’s race between Hobbs and Kari Lake was considered a toss-up right up until Election Day.

Hobbs has served as Arizona’s secretary of state since 2019 and was the first Democrat to hold that office since 1995. Throughout her campaign, she vowed to support and expand protections for abortion access, as well as increase pay for teachers, create a permanent childcare assistance program for working families, and aim to make housing more affordable.

In early polls, Hobbs was ahead by around seven points, but as the midterms drew closer, her lead vanished.

Lake, who was widely known as a former local news anchor in Phoenix, spewed lies about the 2020 election, saying that she would not have certified Arizona’s election results in 2020 if she had been in power. In a recent interview with CNN, she also would not commit to accepting the outcome of the midterm elections.

Among Lake’s top issues were securing the border with Mexico, election security, and restricting abortion access, per her campaign website.

In September, a judge allowed a near-total abortion ban dating back to 1901, which has no exceptions for incest or rape, to be enforced in the state. A few weeks later, a different judge temporarily blocked the enforcement of that ban while the courts figured out which of Arizona’s many competing abortion laws ought to take precedence.

According to a Suffolk University/Arizona Republic poll from September, 49% of independent women voters in the state said that abortion was going to impact which candidates they chose.

Hobbs has been vocal about her support of reproductive freedom, stating on her website that “the decision to have a child should rest solely between a woman and her doctor, not the government or politicians.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Hobbs said that she would “use every tool at my disposal to restore and expand abortion rights in Arizona. And if any legislation restricting reproductive access arrives on my desk, I promise to use my veto plan to block it.”

Lake, on the other hand, said that she would “follow the law” on limits to abortion in Arizona. On top of this, she has advocated for Arizona to enact a law similar to those in Texas and Georgia that ban abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Lake has also spoken positively about Arizona’s near-total ban, calling it a “great law,” and has said that abortion is the “ultimate sin.” Lake has also said that abortion pills should be illegal.