Sep 16, 2022 - Politics

Abe Hamadeh, Kris Mayes square off in Arizona Attorney General race

Two people sitting on a stage.
Kris Mayes and Abe Hamadeh at a forum hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

Republican Abe Hamadeh and Democrat Kris Mayes each tried to convince the business community that they're the best choice to be Arizona attorney general during a forum Thursday.

Catch up quick: Hamadeh, a former Army Reserve intelligence officer and a political newcomer, scored an endorsement from former President Trump that helped him defeat several more-seasoned candidates in the primary.

  • Mayes, who was a Republican until 2019, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. She is a former Arizona Corporation Commissioner.

What happened: Former U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey asked the candidates how they'd lead the state's top prosecuting office.

Abortion: Mayes said she would not prosecute any doctor, pharmacist or other person who aided a woman in having an abortion.

  • She said she believed state laws that outlaw abortions violate a section of the state's constitution that says no person should be interfered with in their private affairs.
  • Hamadeh did not specifically address abortion but said the AG's job is to enforce the laws passed by the state legislature.

Elections: Mayes said she would certify Arizona's fair elections, support voting by mail and prosecute people who harass or attack elections workers.

  • She said people like Hamadeh who spread false claims that the 2020 election was rigged are to blame for an increase in violence against election employees.
  • Hamadeh said his detractors are too quick to dismiss election fraud claims and said an important part of the AG's role is to prosecute this type of fraud and "regain the confidence in our elections."
  • Of note: There is no evidence that fraud impacted the results of the 2020 election.

Law enforcement: Hamadeh attacked Mayes for hiring a campaign consultant who had criticized the Phoenix Police Department on Twitter in recent years.

  • Mayes said she did not agree with her consultant's comments and does "not support any idea of defunding the police."
  • Bailey asked her whether she endorsed Maricopa County attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle, who is pushing progressive criminal justice reforms.
  • Mayes said she does not endorse Gunnigle or agree with all of her platforms.

Why they should win: Both candidates tried to paint the other as extreme and disruptive to the state's business climate.

  • Hamadeh suggested Mayes would channel San Francisco- or Los Angeles-style policies that would increase homelessness and drug use.
  • Mayes hammered Hamadeh for saying he would decertify the 2020 election, saying he was essentially calling for "the end of American democracy."
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