- Associated Press - Friday, November 16, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) - Democrat Katie Hobbs declared victory in the race for Arizona secretary of state Friday night, and her Republican opponent said he called to congratulate her on the win.

Hobbs was ahead by more than 15,000 votes out of about 2.3 million cast in the Nov. 6 election after the latest vote counts from the Nov. 6 election were posted. The secretary of state’s office says only about 67,000 votes remain to be counted.

Republican businessman Steve Gaynor tweeted that he called Hobbs to congratulate her on winning the race and wished her luck. He said it was his honor to be the GOP nominee for the office.

Hobbs‘ win means Democrats will likely hold three statewide Arizona offices next year — secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction and a corporation commission seat — after not holding any state posts since 2011. Democratic Corporation Commission candidate Sandra Kennedy holds a wider lead than Hobbs in a four-way race for two commission seats, but that race has not been called. Democrat Kathy Hoffman won the schools chief job.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey told reporters Friday that he had talked to Hobbs on her win.

“I said, ‘Congratulations, race well run and I’m looking forward to working with you,’ ” Ducey said. “I think we can work well together.”

The battle for the No. 2 elected position in state government had been too close to call for the past week. The Associated Press had declared Gaynor the winner on election night. But the AP retracted the race call Monday after vote tallies showed Hobbs taking the lead. The AP said no race call would be made until the election results are certified.

Hobbs is currently the state Senate minority leader and will become secretary of state in January. The secretary of state is Arizona’s top elections officer and is first in line to succeed the governor following a vacancy.

Hobbs issued a statement thanking her supporters, volunteers, staff and Arizona voters. “I want to thank all of my supporters, volunteers, and Arizona voters for entrusting me with this responsibility.”

“As Secretary of State, I will work to ensure that every eligible voter - Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, Libertarian - can cast your ballot with the confidence that your vote counts and your voice matters, and do so in a way that is meaningful and convenient for you,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs has been in the Senate since 2013 and highlighted her experience as a social worker and former head of a nonprofit group that helps abused women. She also served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013.

Gaynor spent nearly $2 million of his own money in the race. Gaynor emphasized his business experience as the owner of a Los Angeles printing plant. Critics labeled him a wealthy donor who paid his way into the race.

He defeated current Secretary of State Michele Reagan in the August primary after saying her tenure was riddled with missteps.

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