Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is hoping to accomplish something only five former state lawmakers have done before – become governor.
After many months of rumors on her impending run, Hobbs made her announcement Wednesday morning, launching her bid for the state’s top elected position. The seat will be open since Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s term expires after 2022, and her run for it will leave open her current seat as the second highest elected official in the state.
Hobbs has been in the national spotlight for overseeing Arizona’s 2020 election, one that officials from all parties mostly agree was safe and secure — save for claims the election was rigged for President Biden to win, leading to an independent audit commissioned by the state Senate.
The national coverage became the top focus of her campaign video rehashing everything Hobbs has gone through over the past seven months, including a plethora of death threats which caused her to need 24/7 security, but Hobbs still hammered the point that her job was to make sure every vote was counted.
“I’m here to solve problems,” she said in the video. “In 2020, against all odds, in the middle of a pandemic, we proved that democracy works.”
Hobbs said she’s running for governor “to rebuild our economy after Covid stronger than before. To make life saving investments in health care. To invest in our schools, our teachers, and the next generation of Arizona’s leaders to ensure that your race, gender, or zip code, do not dictate your destiny.”
In an interview with Capitol Times Hobbs said her mission has always been to ensure that she is “producing transparent and accountable results for Arizonans.”
“Government only works well if it’s run well,” she said.
Hobbs is the only recent candidate for governor who agreed to an interview with Capitol Times.
She said when she ran for secretary of state in 2018 she was running to take over an office she did not think hit the bar of being well-run.
“It was a mess and we had to get to work right away to clean it up and we did,” she said.
Overall she does not think the government is up-to-par, so she hopes to fix it.
“We right now have a state government that is being run by conspiracy theorists who are focused on an election that was settled six months ago, rather than governing,” Hobbs said. “They are out of touch with everyday Arizonans and partisanship is holding us back.”
Ducey has not been part of the stop the steal movement, and he drew President Trump’s ire when he certified the election.
Hobbs touted her legislative track record of working across party lines to get things done, and like in 2018, she prominently featured a clip of her as Senate Minority Leader shaking hands with Ducey. She served in the Legislature for eight years before narrowly winning her secretary of state race in 2018.
“I have a record of getting things done for Arizona and I’ve worked to bridge that partisan divide … that’s what I want to do as governor,” she said in the interview.
It’s likely that if Hobbs wins, she will have a Legislature still in Republican control after redistricting, but she said that won’t stop her from being able to govern. She said that’s something that has been done before and most recently under the last Democrat governor in Janet Napolitano, who is expected to endorse Hobbs.
The two were spotted at dinner in May and one Hobbs ally told Yellow Sheet Report it was for a gubernatorial endorsement. Hobbs would not confirm or deny, but said the campaign has some endorsements lined up it will be sharing over the next few weeks.
Hobbs told Capitol Times she will govern by avoiding “personal attacks” that keep up partisan bickering, saying that Arizonans have had enough of it.
One issue that is sure to come up will be her 2017 tweet in the aftermath of the deadly riot in Charlottesville in which she said Trump “has made it abundantly clear he’s more interested in pandering to his neo-nazi base” than being president for all Americans.
The stop the steal movement cited that tweet as reason to believe she was in on rigging the election.
If Hobbs gets elected as governor she will only be the sixth former legislator in history to accomplish that feat with Republicans Jan Brewer and Jane Dee Hull were the most recent two in 2010 and 1998 respectively. Republican Evan Mecham was elected in 1986 and R.T. Jones, a Democrat, in 1938 and Republican John Phillips in 1928 were the others.
State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican who announced her run for governor on May 17, also served as a legislator before her statewide election in 2018. Karrin Taylor Robson, a developer who is on the Arizona Board of Regents, is also running as a Republican and she and she and Yee plan to focus on the border, a topic many Republicans will lean on with Biden, a Democrat, in the White House.
Hobbs will first have to defeat Marco Lopez, the former Mayor of Nogales and Napolitano’s former advisor and the former chief of staff of Customs and Border Protection.
While she doesn’t have an extensive background with border issues, she said it’s not a new issue by any means and when she was a social worker before she first ran for office in 2010, she saw the “human side of immigration.” She said she worked in a domestic violence shelter and saw it firsthand.
“Women who were in terrible situations, and were afraid to reach out for the resources that they needed to survive for them and their children,” she said. “We have to fix our broken immigration system.”
She added that the border is not just an Arizona issue and one that will need to be addressed by Congress, but she said she is planning to take a trip down to the southern border soon, but she does not categorize it as a “crisis” like other mostly-Republican elected officials have.
“I would categorize the word crisis as a political football,“ she said. “We need to focus on what’s best for Arizonans and work with our federal partners to address those issues in the way that’s best for everyone.”
She didn’t go into specifics.
She took a shot at Ducey and other Republicans when discussing her future border trip saying she will go for a real reason.
“It’s not something to be done as a photo op,” she said, adding that she plans to visit with folks in those communities and see what the “real issues” are.
On the economy, an area Arizona has done well under Ducey, Hobbs said it’s not an issue that is “owned by Republicans.”
“Economic development is something that’s important for our state to continue to grow and be the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family,” she said, adding that there’s the possibility of facing an economic downturn under her potential first term, but she said the state has been through it before and can work together again in that situation.
What will help dictate the future of Arizona’s economy, Hobbs said, is whether the Legislature will vote to approve Ducey’s flat-tax proposal which would cut more than $1.5 billion from the state’s General Fund. Hobbs said, “most people across the state and across parties think it is a really bad idea.”
Hobbs said she knows she’s in for a long campaign and it won’t be easy, but she is excited to get started.
“I’m certainly not walking into this race thinking that it’s going to be an easy race, but there’s been changes over the last couple of cycles in the electorate and how they voted, and I’m walking into this race as a battle tested statewide leader who has had a unique opportunity for Arizona to see the leadership that I’ve provided,” she said.
“I’m going to be focused on being a governor for all Arizonans and making Arizona work for everyone.”