Jim Small

(Arizona Mirror) Kari Lake cut into Katie Hobbs’ lead for governor on Sunday, but not by as much as her campaign hoped — or enough to put her in a good position to overtake Hobbs as the final ballots are tallied in the upcoming days.

The Hobbs campaign Sunday night issued a statement that, while it stopped just short of declaring victory, made clear that the Democratic nominee expects to do so in the near future.

“With the latest tabulation results from Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties, Katie Hobbs is the unequivocal favorite to become the next Governor of Arizona,” said Nicole DeMont, Hobbs’ campaign manager. “Katie has led since the first round of ballots were counted, and after tonight’s results, it’s clear that this won’t change.”

Lake, a former television newscaster who surged to the GOP nomination in August after being endorsed by former president Donald Trump, picked up about 8,900 votes on Sunday — but still trails Hobbs by more than 26,000 votes.

There are an estimated 160,000 early ballots left to be counted across Arizona, though most of those are from the urban centers of Maricopa and Pima counties. Some 94,000 ballots remain in Maricopa County, while another nearly 39,000 remain in Pima County. Almost all of those ballots have been verified and are ready for tabulation.

With the number of outstanding ballots dwindling, Lake’s path to victory has become increasingly difficult, if not verging on mathematically impossible. According to the Arizona Mirror’s analysis, she will need to win 58.13% of the remaining votes to catch Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state.

The problem: Lake hasn’t yet hit that mark in any of the post-Election Day counts.

Republican pollster Paul Bentz said the math seems to be against Lake.

“At this point, there’s one play left in the game and Lake needs a Hail Mary,” he said. “I don’t think she’ll get it.”

While Republicans have predicted that every day since the polls closed would reveal a wave of GOP-heavy ballots that would eliminate Hobbs’ lead, that has yet to happen. In Maricopa County, where roughly two-thirds of voters live, Lake didn’t notch a majority of votes in post-Election Day counting until Saturday, when she earned 51.8% of the votes counted that day.

Her tally on Sunday in the county was 54.6%, the best she’s achieved so far, but significantly less than the roughly 60% target that her campaign surrogates said would put her within striking distance of Hobbs.

The Lake campaign has remained quiet about the election results over the weekend. Her last statement came on Nov. 11, on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News, when she said she was “very confident that these counts are going to start going heavily our way and we will win this.”

Earlier that day, she told her supporters to “keep your champagne cold, our votes are about to start” being counted.

Other Republicans in contested races also made gains. Abe Hamadeh picked up more than 10,000 votes on Democrat Kris Mayes in the battle for attorney general, halving her lead. If he wins 53.6% of the remaining votes, Hamadeh would win the contest. (He won 55.4% of the ballots counted in Maricopa County on Sunday.)

And the race for state schools chief is a dead heat: Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat seeking reelection, leads Tom Horne by just 592 votes.

Both the AG and superintendent races seem destined to head to a recount. A new law in place for this election requires a recount if the margin between the candidates is less than half of a percentage point.