Democrat Katie Hobbs takes office as Governor of Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — Katie Hobbs took the oath of office Monday to become Arizona’s 24th female governor and the first female Democrat to hold the office since 2009.

Hobbs was sworn in during a private ceremony at the state Capitol as she formally took office from Republican Doug Ducey. A public inauguration for the governor and other statewide offices is scheduled for Thursday.

Hobbs was surrounded by her parents, husband and two children as she placed her hand on a family Bible and took the oath of office in the governor’s office lobby, according to a live stream of the event, which was not public or media. Her mother’s tears of joy distracted the new governor, who paused and joked, “Stop it mom!”

She then posed for photos with her family and signed a certificate.

In one of her first official acts, Hobbs signed an executive order that began a process to update state policy to eliminate discrimination in state employment and procurement. Hobbs adds new protections based on gender identity, political affiliation, military service or veteran status, marital status, culture, and other characteristics.

Hobbs is the outgoing Secretary of State and was previously a state representative who rose to become the top Senate Democrat. As governor, she must work with a House and Senate tightly controlled by Republicans. The new legislature will meet for the first time next week.

Hobbs takes control of a state with a strong economy and solid finances, with a large budget surplus projected for the next fiscal year.

But there are headwinds on the horizon. Phoenix has some of the highest inflation rates in the country and housing costs have skyrocketed as rapid population growth has outstripped housing construction, belying the state’s reputation for affordability. And the water supply is limited by drought.

Hobbs narrowly defeated Republican Kari Lake, a former TV host who was backed by ex-President Donald Trump. She wowed conservatives with her staunch support for Trump, including his lies about the 2020 election, and her scathing criticism of mask requirements and business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But she has struggled to connect with the general Arizona electorate, which has repeatedly shunned Republicans closely aligned with Trump since the 2018 midterm election.

Hobbs is the fifth woman to serve as Governor of Arizona. The last Democratic governor was Janet Napolitano, who resigned as US Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama in January 2009. She was replaced by Republican Governor Jan Brewer.

The Arizona Constitution states that state officials assume their positions on the first Monday in January. While Hobbs took office on schedule, the public ceremony was delayed because Monday is the designated New Year’s Day holiday.

Also on Monday, Democrats Adrian Fontes formally took office as Secretary of State and Kris Mayes as Attorney General, both of whom defeated Trump-backed Republicans who refused to back down and unsuccessfully challenged their losses in court. Mayes’ victory by 280 votes was among the closest statewide races in Arizona history.

Kimberly Yee was sworn in for her second term as State Treasurer and Tom Horne as Superintendent of Public Instruction, a role he served for two terms beginning in 2003. Paul Marsh was sworn in as a mine inspector. Yee, Horne and Marsh are Republicans.

For Hobbs, the oath of office was administered by Roopali Desai, a recently confirmed judge on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals who previously represented Democrats in election cases and Hobbs as secretary of state.

Chief Justice Robert Brutinel swearing in the other state officials.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

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