Kris Mayes holds lead over Abe Hamadeh in Ariz. attorney general election; recount appears likely – The Arizona Republic


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Democrat Kris Mayes’ lead over Republican Abe Hamadeh shrunk but held Monday night as Maricopa County released its last large batch of voting results.
She now leads by 4,195 votes, or 0.2 percentage points, in the race to become Arizona’s next attorney general, making the prospect of a recount even more likely. 
On Sunday, Mayes led by a little over 11,000 votes, or 0.4 percentage points. On Saturday, she led by approximately 20,000 votes, or 1 percentage point. 
Races with less than a 0.5 percentage-point difference between candidates automatically go to a recount.
Hamadeh received more votes in the latest ballot returns from Maricopa County. With approximately 85,000 to 95,000 votes left to count in Arizona’s largest county, the race is heading toward a photo finish. 
The final results may not be known until later this week, if not longer, if the final outcome is so close it triggers a recount. Results can change as votes are tabulated and the race could seesaw again.
Election coverage: Arizona election results
Mayes, a former member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, and Hamadeh, a former prosecutor at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, hit each other with tough rhetoric on social media and at campaign events during the race, and contempt between the two camps has shaped the race.
Abortion and election integrity were major issues in the campaign. 
Another key issue in the race has been experience, namely prosecutorial experience, with each contender making claims about the other’s background.
While this has arisen as an issue on the campaign trail, the day-to-day job of the attorney general does not involve much prosecution. The attorney general oversees prosecutors, acts as counsel to state agencies, protects consumers and represents the state in front of the Supreme Court. 
Hamadeh, a political newcomer, was dogged by revelations about his past that emerged after the Aug. 2 primary. Assisted by former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, Hamadeh beat out five other candidates in the crowded Republican primary field.
Hamadeh said Arizona’s pre-state law that bans all abortions is the state law. Mayes said the pre-state law violates the Arizona Constitution, which guarantees a right to privacy. 
Hamadeh worked for about three years as a deputy Maricopa County attorney and tried cases in court. The Republic was unable to verify how many in total, but in a one-year period, documents show he took five trials to court as either lead or second prosecutor.
Mayes does not have traditional trial experience but points to her involvement with the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Securities Division.
Mayes spoke about her experience in an Oct. 30 social media post: “I’m proud of the work I did while serving AZ as a Commissioner, including overseeing 2,700 cases that included high level Securities Fraud cases.”
She served for seven years on the commission from 2003-2010.
Mayes also has argued that Hamadeh is a danger to democracy, as he does not acknowledge President Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona in 2020. In the primary, Hamadeh said he disagreed with Gov. Doug Ducey’s certification of that election due to voter fraud, despite no evidence of widescale problems revealed through multiple audits and lawsuits.
Despite taking a hard-line position on immigration, his father, Jamal Hamadah, once faced deportation for overstaying his visa and pointed to his children as justification for remaining. Hamadah was not in the country legally when Abe Hamadeh was born.
Trump has contended that children born in the U.S. to parents without legal status should not receive citizenship. Hamadeh has echoed many of the same immigration stances as Trump, though not specifically on birthright citizenship.
Hamadah, who spells his last name multiple ways in public records, sued Abe and his siblings in a dispute over land after they violated the terms of a written trust agreement.
And while Hamadeh has made election security a top issue, he also wrote in an online forum as a 17-year-old that he voted his mother’s ballot in the 2008 presidential election. Doing so would violate Arizona election laws.
Hamadeh made an issue of stock purchases Mayes acknowledged she made in 2000 when she was a reporter at The Arizona Republic. She was among the journalists who purchased stock through their 401(k) accounts in the company that owned the paper before its sale to Gannett, the news outlet’s current owner.
The move violated the newspaper’s ethics policy, a newsroom leader said at the time, because those involved acted on knowledge not available to the public. In comments made in 2003, Mayes maintained she did nothing wrong, that discussions about a possible sale of the business were happening inside and outside the newsroom, and said she made about $5,000 off the trade.
Dan Barr, Mayes’ campaign attorney, said in October Mayes was committed not to disparage The Republic over the matter and expected the same of the newspaper.
Vote counting likely will take days or more before a result in the race is known.
The Associated Press has not projected a winner in the race and many votes are still outstanding. Yet, Hamadeh claimed victory based on a change that put him briefly in the lead Wednesday afternoon. He posted on social media thanking voters and wrote, “I will NEVER forget who I’m fighting for.”
That slim lead evaporated by Wednesday evening.
In a statement to The Arizona Republic on Wednesday afternoon, Mayes said, “To claim victory after one small favorable batch is unwise and irresponsible. This race is too close to call. There are at least half a million votes left to be counted, and every single one of those votes is important.”
Tara Kavaler is a politics reporter at The Arizona Republic. She can be reached by email at tara.kavaler@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @kavalertara

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