‘Our momentum is growing’: Katie Hobbs far outraises her Democratic competitors for governor in 2021

By Stacey Barchenger

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced Monday she had raised over $2.9 million entirely from donors for her campaign to become Arizona’s next governor.

The Democrat did not put any of her own money into her treasury, according to the campaign. The donations came from nearly 20,000 people and most — more than 90% — were for $100 or less.

“I am proud that our campaign is 100% supporter-funded, and thankful that Arizonans believe in our mission to make our state stronger and more inclusive, and bring people together,” Hobbs said in a statement. “Our momentum is growing, and we are laser focused on making Arizona the best place to live, work, and raise a family when we cross the finish line in November.”

Hobbs debuted as a national political figure last year as she defended the handling of the 2020 election in Arizona, and her campaign coffers reflect that profile. By June 2021, she had raised over $1 million.

Candidates for statewide office must release details of their fundraising and expenses by Jan. 15, but already several candidates for governor have released overall numbers that show Arizona races are banking record-breaking sums.

The only Republican candidate for governor who has released fundraising, the developer Karrin Taylor Robson, reported last week $3.7 million in her bank, of which half is her own money.

Hobbs raised more in 2021 than the last Democratic candidate for governor raised in the entire election cycle. In the 2018 gubernatorial race, a campaign marked by unprecedented outside spending, David Garcia raised about $2.4 million to challenge Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, according to state campaign finance records.

Meanwhile Hobbs’ competitors for the Democratic nomination have banked roughly a third of Hobbs’ haul.

Former state representative Aaron Lieberman, of Paradise Valley, reported contributions of about $1 million, with $150,000 of his own money loaned to his campaign. His campaign declared it a record-breaking amount, at the time. Meanwhile Democratic competitor Marco Lopez tallied over $1 million fundraising — of which $235,000 was his own money.

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Jury verdict helped other Democrats
Both Lieberman and Lopez said their donations grew following a discrimination verdict handed down by a federal jury in November, which put Hobbs under the spotlight on an issue that Democrats champion as they court voters of color traditionally allied with their party.

The jury said Talonya Adams, a Black woman who works as Senate Democratic aide, was discriminated against based on her race and gender and was fired in retaliation for raising concern. At the time, Hobbs was the Democratic leader of the Senate, and though she was not a named defendant in the lawsuit, she played a role in Adams’ firing.

Hobbs only amplified criticism when her campaign responded to the verdict by blaming Republicans who run the Legislature, though Hobbs later apologized and released a plan to bring diversity to state government if she is elected governor. She has maintained her reasons for firing Adams were not based in discrimination.

Whether Hobbs’ wavering response to the verdict impacted her own fundraising won’t be clear until she files a complete financial report. Jennah Rivera, a spokeswoman for Hobbs’ campaign, declined to say Monday whether fundraising was affected.

Arizonans this year will choose a governor to replace Ducey, who is term limited and leaves office in early 2023. If Hobbs is elected, she would be the state’s fifth female governor in its history.