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Judge rules against GOP candidate for Ariz. attorney general who sued to reverse results

Abe Hamadeh had claimed that improper adjudication of ballots and other errors cost him the election and asked to be declared the winner

Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general Abe Hamadeh at a Nov. 1 rally in Chandler. (Caitlin O’Hara for The Washington Post)
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An Arizona judge on Friday ruled from the bench against Abe Hamadeh, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for state attorney general who claimed that improper adjudication of ballots and other errors cost him the election and who had asked to be declared the winner.

Hamadeh lost to Democrat Kris Mayes by 511 votes, a narrow margin that triggered an automatic recount, the results of which are expected later this month. But the ruling against Hamadeh in his lawsuit all but guarantees that Mayes will be inaugurated next year.

Judge Lee F. Jantzen of Mohave County Superior Court told Hamadeh’s lawyer, Timothy La Sota, “You just haven’t proven your case.”

By the end of the single-day trial, La Sota acknowledged that he had no proof of errors or misconduct affecting a sufficient number of votes to swing the results and instead requested that the judge simply adjust the vote count to reflect 14 ballots he claimed were in question because of adjudication errors. The judge refused to do so, saying it was beyond the court’s purview in deciding an election contest.

Mayes welcomed the ruling, saying in a statement, “The will of Arizona voters will not be undermined.” She predicted that the mandatory recount would not change the outcome of the election and said she was ready to begin work as attorney general. Hamadeh, meanwhile, argued on Twitter that the terms of the trial had been unfair.

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In closing arguments, lawyers for Mayes and for the secretary of state’s office condemned La Sota for bringing a case they said was frivolous. Dan Barr, an attorney for Mayes, said he would ask the court to impose sanctions on Hamadeh’s counsel.

In 37 years of practicing law, Barr said, he had “never been involved in such a gigantic waste of time as this case.”

“The judiciary and the bar needs to step up to the plate here and to sanction this conduct,” he added. “It has gone too far for too long.”

Andy Gaona, an attorney for the secretary of state’s office, called the proceedings a “spectacular waste of everyone’s time.”

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La Sota, for his part, acknowledged even before the judge’s ruling that he had not proved his case, saying of election contests, “They’re often not successful.” He said he might have done better had he been given more time to gather evidence. He said he showed certain ballot adjudication errors and maintained that there was public value in bringing such a case to instill confidence in the results.

“We pled a complaint in good faith,” La Sota told the court.

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A two-day trial in the election contest brought in Maricopa County by Kari Lake, the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor, concluded Thursday. The judge in that case has yet to rule. A judge last week tossed out a lawsuit brought by Mark Finchem, the defeated GOP candidate for secretary of state.

The 2022 Midterm Elections

Georgia runoff election: Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) won re-election in the Georgia Senate runoff, defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker and giving Democrats a 51st seat in the Senate for the 118th Congress. Get live updates here and runoff results by county.

Divided government: Republicans narrowly won back control of the House, while Democrats will keep control of the Senate, creating a split Congress.

What the results mean for 2024: A Republican Party red wave seems to be a ripple after Republicans fell short in the Senate and narrowly won control in the House. Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign shortly after the midterms. Here are the top 10 2024 presidential candidates for the Republicans and Democrats.