Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has defeated Republican Kari Lake in Arizona's race for governor, NBC News projected Monday.
Hobbs' victory is key for Democrats in a presidential battleground and a rebuke to a prominent election denier — though the closeness of the contest left the result up in the air for nearly a week.
A record number of early ballots were dropped off on Election Day in Maricopa County, officials said, which had to be processed in a more time-intensive manner that includes signature verification. Maricopa County, the state's most populous, said Sunday that it estimated that its count was 94 percent complete after receiving a historic 290,000 of those early ballots on Election Day.
Lake, a MAGA firebrand and former local newscaster who closely linked her campaign to former President Donald Trump and his false claims of a rigged election in Arizona, ultimately fell short after polling in the final weeks of the campaign suggested she was grabbing the lead from Hobbs, who in her role as secretary of state in 2020 vocally defended the state's election system and the accuracy of the count.
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