Update, 3:45 p.m., November 16: Governor Doug Ducey said he has congratulated Democrat Katie Hobbs on winning the race for Arizona Secretary of State.
"I said, 'Congratulations, race well run,' and I'm looking forward to working with her," he told reporter Brahm Resnik in a video posted to Facebook Friday afternoon.
The Hobbs campaign could not be immediately reached for comment.
The latest ballot count (see below) had Hobbs leading Gaynor by more than 13,000 votes, with 92,000 ballots left to process in Arizona.
Update, 5:15 p.m., November 15: Democrat Katie Hobbs now leads Republican Steve Gaynor by more than 13,171 votes. Arizona still has more than 85,000 ballots to process.
Update, 5:15 p.m., November 14: Democrat Katie Hobbs continues to lead Republican Steve Gaynor in the race for Arizona Secretary of State. She is ahead by 6,115 votes. To see how the incoming votes have been distributed since election night, see the graph below from Garrett Archer of the Secretary of State's office. Gaynor is the blue line, Hobbs is red.
Secretary of State race, as we all know, tracked closely with the U.S. Senate. Here the violin is pulled a bit tighter since Gaynor won the first drop, as well as Election Night drops (statewide). pic.twitter.com/hUyf9JiEfW— The AZ Data Guru (@Garrett_Archer) November 14, 2018
Update, 5:15 p.m., November 13: Democrat Katie Hobbs continues to lead Republican Steve Gaynor in the race for Arizona Secretary of State. She is ahead by 5,287 votes. On Monday night, the Associated Press retracted its election-night call that Gaynor had won the race.
Update, 5:30 p.m., November 12: Democrat Katie Hobbs has taken the lead in the race for Arizona Secretary of State. Republican Steve Gaynor now trails by 5,667 votes.
Update, 6:45 p.m., November 11: Republican Steve Gaynor now leads the race for Arizona Secretary of State by 259 votes, according to the latest results from the Secretary of State's office. In Arizona, 219,800 ballots remain to be processed.
Update, 6:45 p.m., November 9: Republican Steve Gaynor's lead over Democrat Katie Hobbs has shrunk to 10,609 votes, down from around 19,000 on Thursday night and 41,000 on election night, the latest results from the Arizona Secretary of State's office show. About 373,500 ballots remain to be counted in Arizona.
This story was first published on November 7, 2018. Original story continues below:
Steve Gaynor, a Republican businessman who poured more than $2 million of his money into his campaign, has won a tight race for Arizona Secretary of State, the Associated Press has declared.
At 10:30 p.m., with 29 percent of precincts reporting, he had won 51.2 percent of the vote. His opponent, Democrat Katie Hobbs, had 48.8 percent. Wednesday morning, little had changed. Gaynor had a lead of 41,152 votes out of almost 1.7 million cast.
As the state’s elections chief, Gaynor will also be second-in-command to Gov. Doug Ducey, who won re-election handily on Tuesday night. That puts him within reach of the governorship, should Ducey step down for any reason.
Shortly before the race was called on Tuesday, Gaynor said at the Republican watch party in Phoenix, "Votes are still getting counted, slowly I might add. We're going to fix that."
In his victory speech, he said, "It’s time to fix the problems in the Secretary of State’s office.”
The Hobbs campaign has not conceded the race. In a statement issued shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday, campaign manager Niles Harris called the decision by the Associated Press "head-scratching."
“The Associated Press has incorrectly called the Secretary of State race in Arizona with a razor-thin margin and hundreds of thousands of ballots remaining to be counted,” Harris said. "We are cautiously optimistic that when all the ballots are counted, Katie Hobbs will be elected Arizona’s next Secretary of State."
Gaynor has no experience in public office. He spent much of his campaign promising to crack down on illegal voting and make voter identification more stringent. He also heavily criticized California for its regulatory environment and the incumbent secretary, Michele Reagan, as incompetent.
He promised to run the secretary of state's race like a business, claiming that he's skilled at turnarounds. As a businessman, he has paid to settled several lawsuits against his companies alleging underpayment of wages, discrimination and violations of a non-compete agreement.
Hobbs was first elected to the Arizona Legislature in 2010. She spent much of her campaign promising to find ways to ensure disenfranchised communities would have access to the ballot. She spent 11 years as the chief compliance officer at what was formerly the Sojourner Center, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
The race was closely contested, with polling that showed the two candidates neck and neck in the month prior to elections. Hobbs started off October trailing Gaynor by 14 points. By the end of the month, she had closed the gap significantly, even leading in some polls.
The two candidates ran on starkly different platforms.
In his campaign, Gaynor promised to overturn the consent decree, a settlement signed by Reagan in June. That agreement stops Arizona from demanding proof of citizenship from those registering to vote if those people have already handed in documentation to the Motor Vehicle Division. It also requires Arizona to allow those who register without proof of citizenship to cast ballots in federal elections.
“It makes it easier for illegals to vote,” Gaynor said in July of the settlement. “It makes it possible for them to register with our state form and vote in our federal elections.”
Most notoriously, Gaynor said in August that he thought all election materials in the United States should be in English. Under federal law, some ballots in the U.S. ballots must be in other languages, depending on U.S. Census demographics. Gaynor subsequently said he would follow the law, but he has also called for overturning certain laws, like the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which aimed at at streamlining registration.
Hobbs ran on a platform of improving voting rights. She advocated for enhancing access to the ballot box, especially for minorities and tribal communities, as well as rehabilitated felons. She also advocated for strong voter outreach and education.
They also have vastly different backgrounds. Gaynor is a wealthy businessman who made his money in the printing industry. He has no previous experience running for or holding elected office, and his campaign is almost entirely self-funded. By the end of October, of the more than $2.5 million he’d raised, $2.35 million had come from his own pocket.
Steven Hsieh contributed reporting.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.