PHOENIX - Former TV news anchor Kari Lake is the GOP nominee for governor.
She will face Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the November election.
New figures released Thursday evening show Lake with 336,153 votes compared to 316,512 for Karrin Taylor Robson. That compares with a 12,000 lead just 24 hours earlier.
It also puts her margin at nearly 3% - a margin large enough for Robson to concede late Thursday night made it impossible for her to catch up.
"The voters of Arizona have spoken,'' she said in a prepared statement. "I accept the result, and I trust the process and the people who administer it.''
But Robson, while saying she hopes that Republican nominees are successful in November, stopped short of an actual endorsement of Lake.
Lake already had proclaimed herself the victor at a press conference more than 24 hours earlier, even as her lead at the time was about 10,000 votes.
She argued that her backers were less likely to have voted early, especially after Lake and former President Trump, who backed her, made unsubstantiated claims about how ballots could be manipulated.
The result was that the election night returns which contained only the votes of those who put their ballots in the mail favored Robson.
That lead shrank and then evaporated as counties began counting the ballots that were cast at the polls.
The latest numbers back that up, with Lake tallying 55,000 more votes cast at polling places as Robson. And that was more than enough to trump Robson's 34,330-vote edge in early ballots.
"Though the results took longer than they should have, Arizonans who have been forgotten by the establishment just delivered a political earthquake,'' Lake said in a prepared statement.
But it is not unusual to not have final tallies, especially in close races.
Counties also have been tallying the votes of people who received ballots by mail but chose to turn them in on election day, a process that takes longer because of the need to verify them.
And after that they have to input provisional ballots, cast by people who showed up at the polls but whose registrations could not be immediately confirmed.
Maricopa County alone reported it still has about 96,600 ballots to be processed and tabulated. Most of those fit into the category of the 122,000 residents who turned in their early ballots on Tuesday.
There also are about 9,100 "uncured'' ballots. These are early ballots where the signature on the envelope does not match what the county has on file.
Counties contact voters and give them up through 5 p.m. this Tuesday to fix the problem. That can be in person or even explaining to election officials why the signatures might not match, such as a recent illness, and verify that they were in fact the person who filled out the ballot.
In a prepared statement, Hobbs said she ready to take on Lake, calling her "dangerous for Arizona.''
"Throughout her campaign, Lake has counted Nazi sympathizer and far-right extremists as part of her coalition,'' the statement read. "We know where she stands on the issues that matter most, vowing to ban abortion and reproductive health care, putting cameras in our children's classrooms and wasting taxpayer money relitigating the 2020 election and manipulating future elections if she doesn't like the results.''
Much of Lake's campaign was focused not so much on current issues as her belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump despite official tallies showing that he was outpolled by Joe Biden by 10,457 votes.
Lake, who was an anchor on the Phoenix Fox affiliate for two decades, also contends the election system in Arizona is beset by fraud. She also has claimed evidence of fraud in her own primary fight but refused to provide any evidence.
The race became a proxy war of sorts between elements of the Republican Party.
Lake boasted of her support by Trump and his allies.
Robson was backed not only by current Gov. Doug Ducey but also Jan Brewer, his predecessor, and former Gov. Fife Symington. She also gained the support of former Vice President Mike Pence who provoked Trump's wrath by refusing his bid that he not certify the electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.
The Republican Governors Association put out a statement congratulating Lake on her victory. Of note, though, the quote came from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, the organization's vice chair, and not from Ducey who chairs the organization.
There was no immediate response from Ducey.
Lake also is the plaintiff in a federal court lawsuit that asks a judge to block the use of machines to tabulate votes.
In legal papers, Lake and Mark Finchem, now the Republican nominee for secretary of state, contend the machines are unreliable because they are subject to hacking. And they say the use of components in computers from other countries makes them vulnerable.
They also argue that the counting of votes is an inherently governmental function. But their attorney, Andrew Parker, says that using machine built and programmed by private companies means the state has effectively - and illegally - farmed out that obligation.
No date has been set for a hearing.
Robson suggested that the campaign, her first, which cost $15 million of her own money, is likely to be her last.
"This part of my life's journey has come to an end,'' she said in her statement. "Now, I need time to be with my family and get back to my business.''
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here