Democrat wins Arizona attorney general race after recount

Dec 28, 2022, 7:03 AM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 12:47 pm
FILE - Kris Mayes, a Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general, smiles before a debate agai...

FILE - Kris Mayes, a Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general, smiles before a debate against Republican Abraham Hamadeh on Sept. 28, 2022. On Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, a judge threw out Hamadeh's challenge of election results in the race and concluded Hamadeh didn't prove the errors in vote counting that he had alleged. Mayes finished 511 votes ahead of Hamadeh out of 2.5 million in one of the closest elections in state history. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A recount of votes has confirmed Democrat Kris Mayes narrowly defeated Republican Abraham Hamadeh in the Arizona attorney general’s race, one of the closest elections in state history.

The highly anticipated results announced Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court are among the last in the country to come out of November’s election and solidified another victory for Democrats who shunned election fraud conspiracies in what used to be a solidly Republican state.

With Hamadeh’s defeat, Republicans running statewide in battleground states who spread former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen have all lost their races.

Mayes finished 280 votes ahead of Hamadeh, down from a lead of 511 in the original count. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

“I’m excited and ready to get to work as your next attorney general and vow to be your lawyer for the people,” Mayes said in a statement.

Judge Timothy Thomason, who also announced the results of recounts in two other races, said Republican Tom Horne prevailed in the race for state superintendent of public instruction and Republican Liz Harris won a state legislative seat in the Phoenix suburbs.

The automatic recounts were required because the races were so close.

Outside court, Mayes attorney Dan Barr said the results should give the public confidence in elections, despite the adjustments in vote totals as a result of the recount.

“They didn’t just do a rubber stamp of what it was,” Barr said. “They did a careful evaluation of the votes and they came up with a different result. And so I think people should have a lot of confidence in the process.”

In a tweet, Hamadeh said the discrepancies in the latest results from his race were shockingly high. “My legal team will be assessing our options to make sure every vote is counted,” wrote Hamadeh, who hasn’t conceded to Mayes.

Mayes and Hamadeh were not in court during the hearing.

Hamadeh had filed a separate challenge of the results in his race, but a judge dismissed that case last week.

Hamadeh alleged problems with ballot printers in Maricopa County had led to a series of issues that disenfranchised voters and that his race was affected by improper handling of ballots that were duplicated or adjudicated by people because they could not be read by tabulators. In throwing out the lawsuit, a judge concluded Hamadeh didn’t prove the errors in vote counting that he had alleged. Records show there were 623 more votes recorded in the recount than results that were certified across the state about a month ago. About 500 were identified in Pinal County, which attributed the discrepancy between the certified returns and the recount results to human errors. One of the issues, which affected 63 ballots, was tied to voting machine settings and ballots with unclear markings.

In the race for superintendent of public instruction, Horne ended the recount with a 9,188-vote lead. Hoffman had previously conceded to Horne, a former schools chief who served one term as attorney general before losing the 2014 primary. Horne posted a net gain of 221 votes in the recount.

Horne had criticized Hoffman for embracing progressive teaching and promised to shut down any hint of “critical race theory,” which is not taught in state schools but is a hot-button issue for social conservatives. He also had said schools were shut down for far too long during the pandemic at Hoffman’s urging.

Harris won with a 275-vote advantage over Republican Julie Willoughby in the race for a seat in state House District 13, which includes parts of the Phoenix-area suburbs of Chandler, Sun Lakes and Gilbert. Harris had a net gain of five votes in the recount.

Although Republican Kari Lake filed an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs in the Arizona governor’s race by just over 17,000 votes, the governor’s race wasn’t close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

Recounts are required in Arizona in races where the margin between the leading candidates is 0.5% or less. Hobbs defeated Lake by 0.67%.

The judge who dismissed Lake’s case rejected her claim that problems with ballot printers at some polling places on Election Day were the result of intentional misconduct.

Lake, who has not conceded to Lake, is appealing the dismissal of her lawsuit with the Arizona Supreme Court. Hobbs takes office as governor on Monday.

Once a Republican stronghold, Arizona’s top races were won by Democrats in November. Republicans had nominated a slate of candidates backed by Trump who focused on supporting his false claims about the 2020 election. In addition to Hobbs and Mayes, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly was reelected and Democrat Adrian Fontes won the race for secretary of state.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Democrat wins Arizona attorney general race after recount