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Republican-turned-Democrat Kris Mayes running for AZ attorney general

The former state corporation commissioner who's hoping to become Arizona's next attorney general says this election is about "democracy over lies."

PHOENIX — Kris Mayes is hoping her vast resume in law and politics – an advantage she has over her less experienced opponent - convinces voters she is the right candidate to run the state’s top prosecutor’s office.

An over-achiever at a young age

Raised on a tree farm in Prescott, the 51-year-old Mayes recently held a rally in Prescott’s downtown square surrounded by hundreds of people who watched her grow up. Mayes showed signs of leadership, even as a teen. During her senior year at Prescott High School, Mayes was the student body president, newspaper editor, valedictorian and homecoming queen.

“It was a lot,” Mayes said during an interview with 12News. “I worked hard then. I’m working hard now. I’m bringing everything I can to this campaign to bring it to a successful conclusion.” 

'Democracy over lies'

Mayes was a registered Republican until she switched parties in 2019. Mayes told the Copper Courier she did not leave the party. Rather, it left her, she said.

During her campaign, Mayes has been outspoken about false election conspiracies fueling the MAGA movement of the Republican Party. Mayes’ opponent, Abe Hamadeh, has stated he would have not signed off on the 2020 election results as Arizona's attorney general. 

Hamadeh cited a movie whose creators were recommended for federal investigation by the Attorney General’s Office two weeks ago because they allegedly lied about evidence they claimed to have showing widespread voter fraud.

“American democracy runs through the state of Arizona this year in my race, the governor’s race and the secretary of state’s race,” Mayes said. “I believe Arizonans are going to choose democracy over lies and democracy over autocracy.”

A history of public service

As a political reporter for the Arizona Republic in 2000, Mayes covered John McCain’s presidential campaign and was banned from the press corps bus. During a recent debate, Mayes said the ouster was the result of a candidate simply being unhappy with his hometown newspaper’s scrutiny, and she pointed out McCain later endorsed her when she ran for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Mayes lives in Phoenix with her daughter. Her career resume includes:

  • Political journalist for the Arizona Republic
  • ASU law degree
  • Masters Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University
  • Senior Administrator in Governor Janet Napolitano’s Office
  • Member of the Arizona Corporation Commission for seven years
  • Senior sustainability scientist at ASU’s Schools of Global Sustainability
  • Energy law professor at ASU

The issue of abortion

Mayes has made it clear that as attorney general, she would not prosecute medical workers for abortions and she would challenge Arizona’s current abortion ban.

“What I intend to do as attorney general is uphold the highest law in Arizona which is the Arizona Constitution,” Mayes said.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, not allowing exceptions for rape or incest. The law also stated that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, which ended up happening, then Arizona’s territorial-era ban on all abortions would go into effect. 

Mayes says she would file a lawsuit challenging the ban, arguing a unique provision in the state constitution provides the express right to privacy and protects a woman’s medical decisions between her and her doctor.

“We are talking about Republicans trying to impose a 1864 abortion ban on the women in the state of Arizona and I believe that that right to privacy makes that 1864 ban unconstitutional,” Mayes said.

RELATED: Arizona abortion clinics send women to other states

Protecting consumers and crime victims

On the issue of prosecuting consumer fraud and other crimes, Mayes touts her work as a corporation commissioner where she oversaw a division of law enforcement officers. Commissioners are also judicial officers. Mayes helped decide 2,700 cases, she said.

“As a commissioner, we prosecuted civil securities fraud and worked with the Attorney General’s Office to put people away for fraud,” Mayes said.

Her work as commissioner included overseeing a settlement involving the Baptist Foundation of Arizona, which engaged in an elaborate Ponzi scheme causing thousands of investors to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Mayes led on issues related to energy efficiency, water conservation, and utility accountability.

Mayes said she would work with state and federal agencies to tackle fentanyl by going after drug smugglers. She would also make protecting Arizona’s water supply a priority.

12News also profiled the campaign of Republican Abe Hamadeh. Read and watch the story here.

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Arizonans will go to the polls this November for the midterm elections. Here's everything you need to know leading up to election night. 

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