Fallout is continuing after a multimillion-dollar jury verdict was awarded to a former staffer of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs due to Hobbs’ racist and sexist treatment of her. Hobbs admitted, “I participated in furthering systemic racism.” Democrats immediately started dropping their support of her candidacy for Arizona governor, with most recently State Representative Richard Andrade (D-Glendale) announcing his decision to switch his endorsement to former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez.
The Arizona Sun Times asked Kari Lake, the leading gubernatorial candidate on the Republican side who recently joined a lawsuit against Hobbs, what she thought of this latest development. She responded, “The movement we are experiencing is so strong I don’t care who the Democrats put up against me, I will crush them in November.”
State Rep. Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe) joined Andrade, saying she has had a similar change of opinion about Hobbs. The Lopez campaign issued a joint statement from the pair.
“Like many, we were initially excited to support Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in her run for governor,” they said. “However, over the past several months we have lost faith in her ability to lead our state in the direction we all want it to go.”
They expressed their concern that the fallout from the jury verdict was continuing, “increasing concerns,” so “we could no longer in good conscience support someone with her record.”
Many prominent Arizonans on both sides of the fence denounced Hobbs after the verdict was announced. State Rep. Teresa Martinez (R-Maricopa) called for her to drop out of the race. The Arizona Republic’s longtime left-leaning political opinion columnist Laurie Roberts also called for Hobbs to drop out of the race. Roberts hinted that if Hobbs is the Democrats’ candidate, Lake will defeat her in the general election. A recent poll found Lake defeating Hobbs.
Another longtime left-leaning columnist with the Republic, Elva Diaz, found it “utterly hypocritical” that “Democratic leaders across Arizona are still utterly silent.” She said “the dark truth of racism” is “calling it out only matters when it’s politically advantageous.”
State Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson) echoed that sentiment, lashing out at other leaders in the Democratic Party for not being more critical of Hobbs. “I find it heartbreaking that no other Democratic senator has taken a public stand,” she said. “We either stand against racism, discrimination, retaliation against those who the offender or victim is, or we don’t.”
However, there are a substantial number of legislators who aren’t supporting Hobbs. Legislators who have endorsed Lopez include State Reps. Morgan Abraham (D-Tucson), Andrés Cano (D-Tucson), Brian Fernandez (D-Yuma), Marcelino Quiñonez (D-Phoenix), and Christian Solorio (D-Phoenix).
State Reps. Jennifer Pawlik (D-Chandler), Amish Shah (D-Phoenix), Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson), Lorenzo Sierra (D-Avondale), and Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson) endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Aaron Lieberman, a former state representative.
Lieberman told Roberts the scandal would prevent Hobbs from winning the general election. “The simple truth is that for a Democrat to win statewide in Arizona, they need to run a near-perfect race,” he said.
Six black leaders spoke up against her. The Reverend Jarrett Maupin Jr., a longtime Democrat activist in Phoenix who recently became a Republican, told the Sun Times, “She is the most dangerous type of racist on the planet, a white liberal social worker. If it wasn’t for Republicans with voter integrity, many blacks wouldn’t have their votes counted. They can’t come into our communities and strong-arm us and harass us. If you’re against voter ID and you’re for ballot harvesting and against proving citizenship, then you’re against blacks and are trying to smother black votes.”
Maupin attempted to talk to Hobbs more than once regarding her treatment of the staffer, but said Hobbs blew him off. He is supporting Lake. “She’ll easily dispatch whoever the Democrats put up,” he said. “I think the GOP base is fired up like never before; what is giving Kari Lake the edge now is the grassroots.”
Andrade and Hernandez did not respond to a request for comment by the time this went to publication.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.