As of press time, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was close to Katie Hobbs, with only 32,200 or so votes separating them, with 350,000 more ballots awaiting tabulation statewide.
It has long been believed that Election Day votes—in person and early ballots dropped off at a voting center—will break in favor of Republican statewide candidates. But there have been complaints from Lake’s campaign that tabulated ballots thought to be from pro-Lake parts of Maricopa County are being held back.
This has kept Lake at a thin margin behind Hobbs going into Saturday night, despite the current Secretary of State’s lack of involvement in widescale public events and Hobbs’ lack of a publicized platform during the campaign.
One consideration is that many of the 17,000 “drawer 3” ballots cast in-person on Election Day, which were not immediately tabulated due to printer toner issues, have been set aside at Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC). Those ballots have been projected as likely coming from pro-Lake voters.
Lake and her campaign have remained positive, expressing confidence that the ballot remaining to be tabulated will break for her and the other statewide Republican candidates.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Kelly gave a victory speech on Saturday, although his Republican challenger Blake Masters called on Arizonans to wait until all ballots are counted.
And for his part, Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh alleged that the Election Day printer toner issue in Maricopa County was directed against Republicans.
Outgoing Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem has also declined to concede his race for Arizona Secretary of State, although Adrian Fontes had a nearly 120,000 vote lead. He would need roughly 70 percent of the remaining votes to hold even with Fontes.
One person who did concede already is Democrat Martin Quezada, who acknowledged Kimberly Yee as the winner of a second term as State Treasurer by a margin of more than 225,000 votes.
And as previously reported by AZ Free News, Arizona’s second populous county is warning that Pima County’s election results may not be determined for several more days.
Meanwhile, elections officials in all 15 counties were required to begin a state-mandated hand count audit. That audit involves a predetermined number of randomly selected sampling of early ballots cast and election day in-person ballots cast.
But those hand counts can only occur if the political party chairs in each county provided the names of participants by a pre-election deadline. And then the participants must actually show up to conduct the audit.
During the 2020 Primary Election in August, there was no hand count audit performed in Apache, Graham, Greenlee, or Santa Cruz counties due to a lack of participation.
An effort by some Cochise County officials to conduct a 100 percent hand count audit of all ballots hit a roadblock when the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court declined to hear the matter on an expedited basis.
Instead, the court of appeals set several deadlines for December to hear the arguments from Cochise County’s two Republican supervisors and Republican County Recorder as to why they have authority to hand count more ballots than what is required in state law.
The appeal stems from a Pima County judge’s ruling that hand counting all ballots conflicts with language in state law for a “random” selection of ballots. A Nov. 15 meeting has been called by the board in hopes of modifying their full hand count directive to one calling for the audit of only 99.9 percent of ballots.
Attorneys for the board contend this complies with the randomness concern. One outstanding question is how Recorder David Stevens, whom the board has tasked with the expanded hand count audit, will get his hands on the ballots which are currently in the legal custody of the county’s election director, Lisa Marra.
Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, himself a Republican, authored a Nov. 10 letter to Marra’s attorney outlining several “potential criminal acts” that could result if attempts are made to take the ballots from Marra’s custody without a court order.
McIntyre’s letter was copied to Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, who has not taken a public position on how his deputies will respond if the expanded hand count moves forward.
Financial eyes are focused on data recently released by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona showing August had the highest number of new filings this year, while also being the first month of 2022 to have more new filings than the same month in 2021.
Bankruptcy filings are considered a lagging indicators of financial stress and economic health, and the number of new filings goes up and down from month to month. However, billions of dollars from various federal stimulus programs have ebbed in 2022, meaning no more Paycheck Protection Program, no CARES stimulus checks to individuals, and the end of the federal foreclosure moratorium.
Some Arizona families and businesses may no longer have a lifeboat, according to commercial debt collection company ABC/Aemga.
“Companies that have struggled throughout the pandemic, but were kept afloat by stimulus money and generous lenders, may face trouble during the rest of 2022 and into 2023 once those funds run out, as the Fed continues to tighten its ultra-loose monetary policy by reducing asset holdings and raising the Fed Funds Rate target, and credit conditions start to tighten,” the company warns.
Sectors such as retail, construction, health care, and certain manufacturers adversely affected by higher raw material and labor costs remain particularly vulnerable, while travel, hospitality, commercial real estate, consumer goods, entertainment, midstream oil and gas, and power and other energy infrastructure also face pressure and uncertainty, according to ABC/Amega.
For the first eight months this year, there were 5,879 new filings statewide, down from 6,765 for the same period in 2021. Slightly more than 12 percent of this year’s new cases were filed pro se, or without legal representation.
If the August pace continues for the rest of 2022 the total filings for the year in Arizona will come close to last year’s total of 9,353. By comparison, there were 12,903 filings in Arizona in 2020 and 16,237 in 2019.
The majority of new cases filed in the state as of Aug. 31 this year were under Chapter 7 (4,803) followed distantly by Chapter 13 (1,029) and Chapter 11 (46). There has also been a lone Chapter 12 filing.
While households and businesses in Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties lead in filings of as Aug. 31 at 3,887, 896, 439 respectively, Yavapai and Mohave counties have similar totals at 151 and 146 respectively.
The three border counties of Cochise, Santa Cruz, and Yuma have 80, 42, and 106, respectively. Meanwhile, Apache (4), Coconino (29), Gila (28), Graham (17), Greenlee (3), LaPaz (7), and Navajo (44) represent less than 2.3 percent of all filings in the state as of Aug. 31.
A Pima County Democratic Party tweet sparked outrage this week when it implied only men would be working if families could live on the wages of one working parent per household. The tweet targeted the Republican’s newest entry into the U.S. Senate race, Blake Masters.
Masters asserted that an individual’s wages should be enough to support an entire household in his campaign’s first ad. After naming various threats to the country – China, the media, corporatism, the border crisis, and Big Tech – Masters asserted that the economy should be healthy enough for families to thrive on a single income.
“We’ve got to build an economy where you can afford to raise a family on one single income,” said Masters. “And instead of pretending that we can somehow fix foreign countries, we’ve got to take care of each other, right here at home.”
In response, the Pima County Democratic Party tweeted:
“‘We need to build an economy where you can afford to raise a family on one single income’ is code for: women should not work,” wrote the Democrats. “#Qnuts #Handmaiden #UnderHisEye #BizarroAd #AZGQP #Bonkers.”
What if…just hear me out…the woman worked and the dad stayed at home?
Later that day, Masters shot back at the Pima County Democratic Party. He retorted that the Democrats’ remarks signified that they’d rather have kids penned up in schools all day while both parents are forced to work.
“In @PimaDems’ ideal world, every kid sits at school 12 hours a day so that every parent can work a mind-numbing corporate job in the name of ‘progress’ – pass,” wrote Masters. “‘*Every single parents* working or else we’re oppressed!’ lol, what happened to the Left? (Also, a lot of single mothers are trying to support a family on a single income. That should be harder for the sake of… what? What are Pima Dems really saying here?)”
In @PimaDems' ideal world, every kid sits at school 12 hours a day so that every parent can work a mind-numbing corporate job in the name of "progress" — pass. https://t.co/lAh0e5nugn
Per their official party platform adopted in 2019, the Pima County Democratic Party says that they support increased individual wages. They call for a livable $15 minimum wage that rises with inflation, as well as a universal basic income.
Masters, the CEO of the investment firm Thiel Capital, announced his run to unseat Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) on Monday. Masters joins the race alongside Attorney General Mark Brnovich and energy executive Jim Lamon.
Masters may have an edge in earning President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Masters’ boss Peter Thiel – founder of Thiel Capital, PayPal co-founder and former CEO, and first outside investor and director in Facebook – donated $10 million to Masters’ campaign. It was also Thiel who spoke in favor of Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Ohio.
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.