Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Katie Hobbs is focused on November
Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Katie Hobbs is expected to handily win her party's nomination as Republicans slug it out in their primary on Aug. 2.
What she's saying: "I'm the only candidate on either side of the aisle that has a clear path to the nomination and I'm focused on what I need to do to win in November," Hobbs tells Axios. "Voters already know me. They've put their trust in me. I'm the only candidate who has won statewide."
- Hobbs was elected secretary of state in 2018 following an eight-year legislative career.
The big picture: Over the past two years, she has become a cable news fixture because of her vehement rejection of the false election-rigging claims spread by former President Trump and his allies in Arizona.
- In her first television ad of the race last week, Hobbs touted her record of standing up for the election while facing death threats and other attacks.
Hobbs tells Axios that her record of working across the aisle while serving in the legislature will serve her well in the general election.
- She worked with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to tackle the backlog of untested rape kits in the state.
- She also promoted her work with Ducey in passing legislation to address the state's opioid epidemic and with former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to expand Medicaid coverage in Arizona.
Yes, but: If Hobbs is the Democratic nominee, she'll go into the general election with a serious problem hanging over her head. A federal jury ruled that she fired a staffer during her time as Senate minority leader for complaining about discriminatory pay.
- Hobbs initially defended the firing as justified but later issued a public apology to Talonya Adams and acknowledged that Adams faced discrimination as a Senate employee.
- Primary challenger Marco Lopez tells Axios the discrimination verdict makes Hobbs unelectable in a general election.
Catch up fast: Marco Lopez says he's the only Democrat who can win
What she's saying: "As I've said many times, I am truly sorry for the pain that I caused her and her family. And I believe Arizonans deserve a leader who owns up to her mistakes, which I have demonstrated," Hobbs tells Axios.
As governor, Hobbs said her top priorities would be K-12 education, addressing the state's water crisis and helping Arizonans who are struggling to afford increasingly expensive things like groceries and housing.
On education, Hobbs says she wants to overhaul Arizona's K-12 funding formula so that schools in areas with lower property values aren’t shortchanged, and to push back against tax dollars going to private schools in the form of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts.
Between the lines: Hobbs seeks to become the first Democrat to be elected governor in Arizona since Janet Napolitano’s 2006 re-election.
- Hobbs says Arizonans have a history of being fiercely independent, noting that many split their tickets in 2018, electing both Democrats and Republicans in statewide races.
- However, 2018 was a very favorable year for Democrats.
Even if Hobbs gets elected in November, she expects Republicans to retain control of both chambers of the legislature.
What's next: The primary election is on Aug. 2, and early voting begins today.
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