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Kari Lake's legal challenge to Katie Hobbs' victory could drag on beyond Hobbs' swearing-in as governor

Maricopa County judge sets timeline for court hearings next week on election contest.

PHOENIX — Katie Hobbs will be sworn in as Arizona's next governor in 20 days.

Kari Lake's court fight to overturn Hobbs' victory could continue at least that long -- and perhaps beyond the Jan. 2 oath of office ceremony.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Tuesday penciled in the court calendar for Lake's formal contest of an election she lost by 17,000 votes. 

Lake, who has never said she would concede defeat, could see her lawsuit thrown out by Judge Peter Thompson by the middle of next week. 

But if Thompson - a 2010 appointee of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer - doesn't dismiss the suit, he'll be working through Christmas.

A decision on whether Hobbs' victory stands could come within days of her swearing in, along with the state's other executive officers.

Here's the court calendar, agreed upon by Lake's attorney and the defendants - the Maricopa County Board, County Recorder Stephen Richer and Hobbs' Secretary of State's Office:

  • State and county elections lawyers will make their case to dismiss Lake's lawsuit on Monday, Dec. 19.
  • If the judge doesn't dismiss the suit, there will be a two-day hearing next Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 21 and 22.
  • Under state law, the judge must then decide within five days - no later than Tuesday, Dec. 27  - whether to confirm Hobbs as the winner or toss out her victory.

RELATED: Kari Lake files 2nd lawsuit aimed at overturning the November election

Timing is everything.

Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state, is scheduled to take the oath of office as Arizona's governor on Monday, Jan. 2.

Lake lawyer Bryan Blehm, who was the attorney for the Cyber Ninjas' partisan election review last year, had asked the judge for a three-day hearing on Lake's election claims. 

Hobbs' attorney warned during Tuesday's court hearing that dragging out the case could cast a pall on the January inauguration.

"Pushing this back any further will threaten the orderly transition of power," lawyer Andrew Gaona said.

Thompson was also keenly aware of the potential impact on the January change in government.

"The ruling will take us right up to 11th hour, and I have serious concerns about that," he said. "The ruling isn't something I'll be able to do in 15 minutes."

Lake, a former TV news anchor making her first run for office, watched the virtual court hearing but never spoke. 

Like her patron Donald Trump, she maintains - without evidence - that the midterm election was stolen. 

Lake's 70-page complaint alleges "hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots infected the election in Maricopa County."

The allegations contained in the complaint rely in part on "data analysts" connected to the We the People Alliance.

The Phoenix-area organization has received $180,000 in funding from Mike Lindell and Patrick Byrne, according to campaign finance records with the Secretary of State's Office. Lindell and Byrne are two of the leading promoters of the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen.

Lake could appeal any of the judge's rulings.

Her allies have set up a new organization - the Save Arizona Fund - to help pay her legal bills. 

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