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Who is Katie Hobbs? 5 things to know about Arizona's Democratic governor

Arizona voters elected Katie Hobbs, Arizona's chief election official, as their next governor. She defeated Republican Kari Lake.

Hobbs has worked in politics for over a decade and rose to prominence defending Joe Biden's presidential win in Arizona in 2020. She replaces Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who hit a two-term limit.

Who is Katie Hobbs?

Hobbs, 52, is Arizona's secretary of state. Her job duties include overseeing elections and business registrations, as well as running the state library, which catalogs the official history of the Grand Canyon State.

Prior to election to the statewide office in 2018, Hobbs served for eight years in the state Legislature. She was elected to a leadership position in the state Senate in 2014.

Hobbs is a first-generation Arizonan who grew up in a working-class family in Tempe. She has been married for 26 years ⁠— her husband is a child therapist ⁠— and they have two adult children, a 23-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter.

She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University, respectively, and began her career in behavioral health and then handling contracts and lobbying work for the Sojourner Center, one of the nation's largest domestic violence shelters.

Fun facts: Hobbs is a twin, and her twin sister is a school teacher. She's also a triathlete.

How did Katie Hobbs get into politics?

While working in social services, Hobbs felt leaders at the time weren't tackling the government systems that left some people behind. In 2004, she attended Emerge, a political boot camp for Democratic candidates that she later helped lead, and that ended her skepticism and convinced her to seek office.

In 2008, she served as a delegate for Hillary Clinton when Clinton sought the Democratic nomination for president. Two years later, she won a seat in the state House of Representatives.

Who did Katie Hobbs run against for Arizona governor?

Hobbs faced Republican nominee Kari Lake, the former news anchor for Fox 10. Lake, an Iowa native, worked on television in Arizona for nearly three decades, save for a short stint in upstate New York.

Lake, 52, lives in Phoenix with her husband and two children. She pledged to secure the state's southern border using an untested legal theory that would have involved declaring an invasion, and she wanted to curb homelessness by creating more housing resources but criminalizing those who don't take advantage of them.

Throughout the campaign, Lake furthered claims the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, who endorsed her in the primary election. Despite dozens of lawsuits nationwide, none has found outcome-changing fraud. The Arizona Senate's own ballot review proved Biden's win.

Where does Katie Hobbs stand on key issues?

Hobbs is an abortion rights advocate who has pledged to veto any pieces of legislation that place restrictions on abortion access.

Her economic policy includes programs aimed at helping working families, proposing a child tax credit, expanded childcare assistance, and waiving taxes on expensive items like diapers and baby formula.

On education, Hobbs supports universal pre-kindergarten and wants to raise teacher pay. She has proposed creating a refundable tax credit for students who pursue career and technical education instead of college.

In addition to making a national name for herself defending the 2020 election in Arizona, Hobbs has pledged to veto any legislation that would make casting a ballot more difficult and believes the state should make voting easier by expanding the early voting period, making Election Day a holiday and adding more funding for voter education and online registration.

What are Hobbs' controversies?

When Hobbs was the Democratic leader in the Arizona Senate in 2015, she participated in the firing of a Black female staffer — a decision that exploded into a court case that has plagued Hobbs' campaign.

The staffer, Talonya Adams, alleged she was fired in retaliation after complaining she made significantly less than white male peers. She filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Senate. Hobbs was not a defendant in the case but testified in two trials, which Adams won.

Hobbs has maintained her decision was not based in discrimination, but her response to the verdict in Nov. 2021 caused its own stir. Her campaign first shifted blame to Republicans, the majority party in the Senate, prompting critique from several prominent Black leaders in Arizona. Hobbs ultimately apologized for her defensive response and furthering systemic racism.

Her campaign approach, too, was the subject of scrutiny. Walking into the primary election with a big advantage among voters, Hobbs skipped traditional campaign stops like local district meetings and the only televised debate of the cycle.

Her opponent said Hobbs was hiding from the public and trying to avoid another public embarrassment, pointing to a statement she made months earlier about the Biden administration's controversial decision to end a public policy that allowed the country to expel migrants at the southern border.

Hobbs said the policy, known as Title 42, "wasn't working." Weeks later, asked again, she said it wasn't working but it would be "a disaster" to end the policy without a plan in place, a stance taken by Arizona's moderate U.S. senators, Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly.

Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger at stacey.barchenger@arizonarepublic.com or 480-416-5669. Follow her on Twitter @sbarchenger.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Who is Katie Hobbs? What to know about the Arizona governor