Arizona attorney general candidates argue over 2020 election, abortion during debate

Arizona attorney general candidates squared off in a heated debate where they battled over abortion and election integrity.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 8:41 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Arizona’s mail-in ballots go out in just 13 days, and on Wednesday night, the two candidates running for state attorney general are still fighting over the last election. The 2020 election and abortion were the most contentious issues in the only televised debate in the pivotal race to decide who will become Arizona’s next top cop. Democratic candidate Kris Mayes accused her opponent, Republican Abe Hamadeh, of being anti-democratic for pushing baseless conspiracies that the 2020 election was stolen. Hamadeh won former president Donald Trump’s endorsement in a contested primary and is part of the so-called MAGA slate of Trump’s hand-picked candidates in Arizona who have promoted unsupported election fraud claims.

Part of Wednesday’s argument dates back to November 2020, just after the election. This was when Gov. Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs certified the results, and current Attorney General Mark Brnovich signed on as a witness. During the 30-minute debate, Mayes said she would have signed off on the election that President Joe Biden won. Even though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Hamadeh eventually said he would not have certified the election. His answer came only after being pressed by the moderator. “At the time with the issues, I said no, I would not have, until it was resolved,” said Hamadeh. “Can I be clear? I would have certified and signed off on that election,” replied Mayes.

The two candidates also sparred over how to enforce Arizona’s pre-statehood law that bans nearly all abortions in the state. “Women are going to die. Women and girls are going to die because of this 1901 law,” said Mayes. She argued the law violates the state constitution and said she would not enforce it if elected. Hamadeh offered a different position. “The law is the law,” he said. “I don’t want to make the law. That’s the job of the Legislature. I enforce the law and I think that’s an important distinction between my opponent and myself.”

The 1901 law on abortion is expected to face legal challenges. After the debate, Mayes was asked if she would enforce the abortion law if it was found to be constitutional, and she said she would still not likely prosecute.