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The Daily Agenda: Election Sunday > Football Sunday
Give back the stolen electron ... Wendy takes the wheel ... And Arizona provides endless late-night fodder.
With a little luck, this election will be over soon. And in a few short months, the winners will be in charge of governing Arizona. Become a paying subscriber today to ensure that we’ve got eyes on our next batch of politicians. Let’s keep them honest together.
Six days after voting ended, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake continues to underperform in vote returns, leaving Democrat Katie Hobbs with a lead of more than 26,000 votes as of last night.
Democratic AG candidate Kris Mayes still narrowly leads Republican Abe Hamadeh, by more than 11,000 votes. And Democratic Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is ahead of Republican Tom Horne by less than 600 votes now. Those two races are currently within recount territory under the new recount law. So, even once it’s over, it may not really be over.
Since Friday, several major races have become close enough to call, though we’re watching and waiting on vote counts for others. The Associated Press explained why it hasn’t called the governor’s race yet: There are too many votes left that could decide the winner. As of Sunday night, there are still more than 160,000 ballots left to count statewide.
The projected winners so far: U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly beat Blake Masters, maintaining Democratic control of the U.S. Senate. Adrian Fontes beat election denier Mark Finchem for the top elections official. GOP state treasurer Kimberly Yee kept her seat. Greg Stanton held off a challenge from GOP newcomer Kelly Cooper. And another GOP newcomer, Eli Crane, ousted U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran.
We’re still closely watching the congressional races between Jevin Hodge and David Schweikert (where Schweikert now leads by just under 900 votes), and Juan Ciscomani and Kirsten Engel (where Ciscomani holds a nearly 1,800-vote lead), which could help decide the balance of the U.S. House.
And a few legislative races in Arizona are too close to call, leaving the makeup of both chambers up in the air. As it stands Sunday night, both chambers are still narrowly in Republican control. In the LD2 Senate race, Republican Steve Kaiser has a growing edge on Democrat Jeanne Casteen, while the LD13 Senate race has Republican J.D. Mesnard up over Democrat Cynthia Hans by a similar margin. LD17’s Justine Wadsack is up just a bit over Democrat Mike Nickerson.
In the House races, Democrat Keith Seaman is still in a narrow second place in LD16, and in LD17, Democrat Dana Allmond narrowly trails in third place for the district’s two House seats. In LD23, though, Republican Michele Pena is in a solid second place, flipping a seat in a safe Dem district. And Republican Matt Gress slid into first place in the LD4 House race over Democrat Laura Terech, though in a two-seat House race, it doesn’t really matter who wins first.
Several ballot measures are outstanding as well. Prop 132, which would require a 60% vote on ballot measures related to taxes, is narrowly ahead, as is Prop 308, a measure to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates. Prop 309, a voter ID measure, and Prop 310, a tax for rural fire districts, are both narrowly behind.
While the counting continues, so too does the partisan haranguing. If Lake loses, you can bet that she’ll be heading to court, as will other GOP candidates. Masters and Finchem haven’t conceded, saying they’ll wait until all votes are counted. The Republican National Committee and AZGOP called on the county to count votes around the clock (the county declined).
And some Republicans told their followers to protest, leading a small group of people to gather outside the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center with signs and bullhorns, yelling about the election being “fake.”
Or, as Trump said in a statement, the “electron” was stolen from Masters. “Do election over again!” he said.
We’ve been saying all along that these races would all be close, and they are. It’s not cheating — it’s being a purple state. And while some, like Finchem, don’t understand how people vote for Democrats because they didn’t know anyone who voted for Biden, the state has changed considerably in the past two decades.
The failure of these Republican candidates should inspire introspection from a state party that’s swung far to the right, alienating moderate GOP voters and the independents who decide our elections here.
Instead, we’ll probably see lawsuits, unfounded claims of fraud, efforts to restrict voting, hundreds of vitriolic tweets, more threats to election workers and a double-down on MAGAism.
No powder: The envelope sent to the Kari Lake headquarters that her campaign said contained a “suspicious white powder” did not have powder in it, the Phoenix Police Department said. The department noted that a previous letter with what looked like baking flour in it was thrown away by staff, however. The two letters sent to the police for testing contained letters with “derogatory and vulgar statements,” but no threats.
Her?: Arizona’s most conspiratorial state senator, Wendy Rogers, who was censured earlier this year for some of those conspiratorial comments, will chair the Senate’s Elections Committee, a powerful seat that decides which changes to election laws get heard and voted on, Rogers announced. (This presumes that the Republicans keep control of the Senate — a split chamber would operate differently.)
That’s not how any of this works: Not to be outdone, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jim O’Connor, who has tried to use his position as a utility regulator to cast doubt on elections, says he wants a “full hand count” of Maricopa County or else his “consent to be governed” will be “WITHHELD,” according to the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo.
No Hail Mary here: The Arizona Supreme Court declined a request from Cochise County to quickly weigh in on its hand count plans, which likely means the hand count won’t move forward because the courts won’t be able to approve it in time, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl reports. The county previously lost at Pima County Superior Court, which said a hand count was not legal, though that didn’t stop the county from trying to do the hand count anyway.
We’ll be talking about printers a lot: Votebeat’s Jen Fifield walks through exactly what we know about what went wrong with printers at 70 Maricopa County vote centers on Election Day and what questions still aren’t answered. The fix to the printer problem was changing a setting to make the ballot print darker, but it took several hours to figure that out. And the Republic analyzed which parts of town were affected by printer problems, finding that the polling places with issues were about evenly split between areas that went for Lake or Hobbs, though the story notes that Republicans were more likely to vote in person this year.
Another new center: Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk will host a fundraiser that benefits Arizona State University’s Center for American Institutions and the Turning Point Academy, a private school chain associated with the group, the Republic’s Richard Ruelas reports. Kirk wrote a book called “The College Scam,” Ruelas points out, and the organization has a long history of criticism of universities and professors. Some professors have raised concerns over the new ASU center, its fundraising and its events.
Didn’t work: Separately, Turning Point PAC sent texts to voters in Pennsylvania attributed to Kirk to try to convince voters to vote for Mehmet Oz, the Trump-endorsed Republican, over Democrat John Fetterman, who won that state’s race for U.S. Senate, the Daily Beast reports. The move shows the wide reach of Arizona’s MAGA operatives.
Easy as 1, 2, 3: Rhetoric from Republicans like Lake sowed doubt in mailing in ballots, leading to a record number of Election Day drop-offs, which Lake then got mad about, the Republic’s Robert Anglen reports. The Washington Post details how counting works in Maricopa County, how widespread early voting affects the counting process and how the county has become a national focus. And the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl writes about how counting could move faster, but the trade-offs for that speed would have big effects on voters and require more money.
Voters like elections: Election deniers running for secretary of state roles in battleground states, like Arizona, uniformly lost their races, a sign that voters didn’t trust these candidates to run elections and a slight relief for those who worried what these candidates could do in their roles in 2024, the New York Times reports.
That was quick: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus, the former Tucson police chief, resigned this weekend. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had requested Magnus’ resignation last week, though it seemed like Magnus would not be resigning. The administration has been critical of Magnus for not being engaged in the role and for being “out of touch with the agency,” CNN reports.
Kari Lake made “Saturday Night Live” again in a spoof of Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” The fake Lake, expertly played by Cecily Strong, bobs back and forth on whether the Arizona election was legitimate based on whether she’s winning.
“My campaign isn’t dead yet, even if my camera filter makes it look like I’m in heaven,” Strong-as-Lake said.
She later joins the hosts on their couch as the new host of “Kari & Friends,” saying “You think if I lose I'm going to go away? Not on your life!”
GOP U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters also got a shoutout, during the show’s “Weekend Update.” After his loss, Masters can “return to his true passion of, I’m going to guess, strangling hitchhikers,” Update host Colin Jost joked.