The blue wave appears to have turned Arizona purple by flipping offices at all levels of government from red to blue. Democrats seem to have taken four additional seats in the Arizona House, flipped the second congressional district, elected a Democrat to the Senate for the first time in 30 years, and chosen a teacher to lead the Arizona Department of Education.
However, the race for Secretary of State is still undecided.
As of Monday evening, Democrat Katie Hobbs is leading Republican Steve Gaynor for Arizona Secretary of State by 5,667 votes, according to the unofficial results. However, the situation shifts as election officials continue to count ballots. Earlier in the day, Hobbs was down by a little over 400 votes.
Hobbs was a social worker before being elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2010. She was elected to the Arizona Senate in 2012 and subsequently reelected in 2014 and 2016. She is currently the minority leader in that chamber.
Gaynor is a businessman from Paradise Valley. He defeated the sitting Secretary of State, Michele Reagan, in the Republican primary. Gaynor supports hard-line policies on voting access and voting rights.
According to the Phoenix New Times,
He is a progressive’s worst nightmare, supporting voter identification laws and posing for photos with the far-right, anti-immigrant Patriot Movement AZ. In August, Gaynor made headlines for saying that in the United States, election literature should not be printed in Spanish or any language other than English.
He also expressed concerns of voter fraud and erroneously suggested that “there are like 10,000 voters in our state right now that are undocumented.” The undocumented claim that thousands of non-citizens vote in US elections is a concern that President Donald Trump has repeatedly brought up.
After winning the presidential election in 2016, Trump claimed that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally[.]”
Trump again brought up the issue of “illegal voting” before the midterms.
“Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law. Thank you!” tweeted the President.
Similarly to Trump’s recent comments, Gaynor spoke about the need to crack down on “illegal voting” during the campaign.
In addition to being the state’s top elections official, the Secretary of State is next in line to succeed the governor. Many have speculated that Ducey has his sights on higher office and may want to run for Senate in 2020. If so, he would join a long list of Arizona governors who left office early.
Since the 1970s, four governors have left office before their term ended. The most recent being in 2009 when Governor Doug Ducey’s predecessor, Jan Brewer, succeeded Janet Napolitano, who became Secretary of Homeland Security during President Barack Obama’s first term in office.
As votes continue to be counted, Arizonans should pay close attention to the race for Secretary of State. The winner may very well be promoted in just two years.