Arizona earned a reputation as a reliably “red” state. Between 1976 and 2016, for example, there were 11 presidential elections, and the GOP ticket carried the Grand Canyon State in 10 of them. Between 1964 and 2016, Arizona voters elected only one Democrat to the U.S. Senate.
This was known as the Land of Goldwater and McCain, and the GOP saw it as one of their strongholds.
That is, until fairly recently. In 2018, Arizonans elected a Democratic U.S. senator. In 2020, the state’s electorate narrowly backed the Democratic presidential ticket while electing another Democratic U.S. senator.
In 2022, Arizona Democrats won the state’s gubernatorial race, a U.S. Senate race, the secretary of state race, and as of late last week, the race for state attorney general. The Associated Press reported:
A recount of votes has confirmed Democrat Kris Mayes narrowly defeated Republican Abraham Hamadeh in the Arizona attorney general’s race, one of the closest elections in state history. The highly anticipated results announced Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court are among the last in the country to come out of November’s election and solidified another victory for Democrats who shunned election fraud conspiracies in what used to be a solidly Republican state.
According to the final tally, Mayes prevailed by just 280 votes in a race in which roughly 2.5 million ballots were cast. Hamadeh still hasn’t conceded, and the Republican responded to the recount by calling for another recount — a position that was soon after endorsed by Donald Trump, who backed his far-right candidacy.
Mayes, the certified election winner, is nevertheless expected to be sworn into office this week.
Her victory is a breakthrough in the traditionally GOP state. An Arizona Republic report noted, “Mayes will make history as Arizona’s first openly gay attorney general and first attorney general who is also a mom. She is the state’s second female attorney general behind Janet Napolitano, who served from 1999-2003.”
Of particular interest from a national perspective, however, was Hamadeh’s candidacy, which was based in large part on his role as an enthusiastic election denier. As the GOP candidate put it in one especially memorable tweet during the campaign, “My message to those who worked to rob President Trump in the rigged 2020 election: Your day of reckoning is coming when I take office [in] January 2023.”
The text appeared alongside an image of someone in handcuffs, and Hamadeh added a #perpwalk hashtag.
This proved persuasive to a sizable percentage of Arizona’s electorate — but not enough to prevail.
After an unexpectedly difficult season for election deniers, some on the right saw this state A.G. race as one last opportunity for success. NBC News reported in November, “In the 13 races in six battleground states where an election denier was on the ballot for governor, secretary of state or attorney general, 12 lost.” The lone holdout was the Mayes/Hamadeh race, which went to an automatic recount.
We now know the Republican lost this one, too, making it 13 for 13.
The AP’s report stressed the same detail: “With Hamadeh’s defeat, Republicans running statewide in battleground states who spread former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen have all lost their races.”