Katie Hobbs

The Arizona State Senate Democratic leader and advocate for women in politics aims to replace a female Republican incumbent and become Arizona’s next secretary of state.

By Zoe Searles and Candice Helfand-Rogers

Editor’s Note: Our coverage of Katie Hobbs is part of Running Women, a  project following 15 compelling women candidates for U.S. political offices in 2018. Read the latest on her campaign below.

Katie Hobbs, candidate for Arizona Secretary of State

State Sen. Katie Hobbs has her sights set on becoming Arizona’s next secretary of state. Should the State Senate Democratic leader win, she would be the second Democratic woman in state history to ever hold that position.

In the Grand Canyon state, it’s an especially important position — there is no lieutenant governor, so the secretary of state is second in command behind the governor, and the first in line to assume the seat, if the governor can no longer serve. The secretary of state also is also Arizona’s chief election officer.

That role in elections has become a weak point for Republican incumbent Michele Reagan, who made headlines last year when a new online signature-collection service for candidates she launched had problems early on.

Then again, Hobbs may not face Reagan on Election Day. Should Hobbs prevail in this August’s Democratic primary against voting rights attorney Mark Gordon, her general election opponent could be fellow state Senator Steve Montenegro — and based on preliminary polls, his chances of winning the Republican primary are real.

Regardless of who Hobbs might face, Arizona is a traditionally red state. However, President Donald Trump won the state with only 49.5 percent of the vote in 2016. Hobbs, meanwhile, has been an outspoken opponent of Trump, and of other establishment conservatives. In a statement, she asserted that the democratic process “is under attack from Republican attempts to suppress voter turnout among marginalized communities.”

While Hobbs may be facing an uphill battle, she has a lengthy resume of public service and leadership experience to run on.

Before entering politics, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University in 1992, then a master’s degree from Arizona State University in 1995. While pursuing her education, she began her career as a social worker that would last more than 25 years. She married her husband, Pat, with whom she has two children, Sam and Hannah.

Related: Emerge America is Embracing a 50-State Strategy

Hobbs also began engaging civically — and bringing other women into the political fold with her. She was commissioner of the Phoenix Women’s Commission, and worked to elect social workers on behalf of the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Then, after graduating from Emerge Arizona‘s candidate training program in 2004, she worked to recruit other women to the organization, which is a chapter of Emerge America, a national organization that prepares women to run for office. In 2013, she became Emerge Arizona’s executive director.

But it was the people she helped as a social worker that Hobbs says inspired her to run herself. She felt that her female clients, particularly women of color, were overlooked and underserved by their current representatives. Hobbs was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2010, then to the state Senate in 2012. She became Senate minority leader in 2014. Arizona’s legislators are considered part-time public servants, so Hobbs served there while also working for Emerge Arizona.

Throughout her career in elected office, she has championed a number of women’s causes, including abortion rights. For example, she advocated for fetal research as a path to curing diseases and tried to pass legislative amendments that would protect the identities of doctors who perform abortions. She is also an vocal advocate of increased spending for Arizona’s public schools, which are facing a funding crisis recognized by both parties.

The Latest on the Campaign

March 7, 2018:
Running Women Q&A: Katie Hobbs is Itching to Fight Voter Suppression

The Arizona State Senate minority leader vows to ensure all eligible voters can vote, if she becomes secretary of state, leveling the playing field for Democrats, including the 2020 presidential candidate. Read the interview highlights.

Posted: January 17, 2018

Zoe Searles and Candice Helfand-RogersKatie Hobbs