By Jon Johnson
PHOENIX – The second-highest ranking state office in Arizona will soon belong to a Democrat.
Katie Hobbs (D) has declared victory in the race for Arizona Secretary of State over her opponent, Steve Gaynor (R), a man who had been declared the victor on election night by the Associated Press.
After counting the majority of the early ballots, Hobbs surprisingly surpassed Gaynor – who easily beat out current Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (R) in the primary – and as of Friday night had a lead of 15,025 votes with about 67,000 votes still left to count. Out of the votes left, 60,000 are in Maricopa County and 7,000 are in Pima County, both places where Hobbs leads Gaynor. Hobbs had 683,292 votes in Maricopa County compared to 666,592 votes for Gaynor and 221,552 votes in Pima County compared to 152,591 for Gaynor, as of Friday night.
On Friday night, Gaynor conceded and Hobbs declared victory.
“Tonight we won the race for Arizona’s Secretary of State,” Hobbs said. “I want to thank all of my supporters, volunteers, staff, and Arizona voters for entrusting me with this responsibility.”
Hobbs added that she would work to make sure everybody’s vote is counted no matter what the party affiliation.
“As Secretary of State, I will work to ensure that every eligible voter – Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, Libertarian – can cast your ballot with the confidence that your vote counts and your voice matters, and do so in a way that is meaningful and convenient for you,” she said.
Hobbs is the fourth Democrat to come from behind after trailing election night. Her victory puts Governor Doug Ducey’s selection to fulfill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat in the limelight.
Prior to Hobbs’ victory, it was speculated that Ducey might appoint himself to take McCain’s seat in the Senate, a spot currently occupied by Sen. Jon Kyl (R). Kyle has said he is not interested in holding the seat the full term until a special election in 2020. Whoever wins that election will finish McCain’s term and the seat will be up for election again in 2022.
If Ducey appointed himself, he would be ceding the governor spot to Hobbs, who is a Democrat. However, Ducey now might appoint Martha McSally (R) to the position. McSally lost her bid to replace outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R) to Kyrsten Sinema (D), who as of Friday night leads that race by about 50,000 votes.