Well, she’s doing exactly what we were all afraid that she would do. Arizona Democratic Governor-Elect Katie Hobbs is planning to call a special session in her state legislature to bring “clarity” to the state abortion laws on the very first day her administration takes over in January.
This will be an aggressive move to begin her tenure as Governor of the state. She will be moving to get the 1864 territorial law that only permits abortion in the case of danger to the mother’s life repealed. And two laws conflict with this law already on the books.
Arizona has a law for a 15-week ban on abortion that was signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in March of 2022. This new law does not include exceptions for rape and incest past that point.
Gov.-elect Hobbs does not support the 15-week ban and she is getting ready to make these moves with the assumption that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers will prefer a more recent law that many on the right voted in favor of.
Hobbs told the media recently, “My focus right now is just going to be to repeal this law. That should be plain and simple. Again, in terms of representing the majority of Arizonans and being in line with what was a major issue in this election that we just got through, I would be hopeful that some Republicans would be willing to make that change.”
Gov.-elect Hobbs is obviously trying to appeal to her base as quickly as possible, but this could prove to be detrimental to her administration in the long run.
The GOP, who don’t believe she fairly won the election, are still in the majority in the state legislature. They will play hardball politically and it will take some maneuvering to get a Republican vote to join with the Democratic in repealing the 1864 law.
And they certainly will try and take away her first attempt at a win.
It’s a fair question to ask why Hobbs is wanting to do such a bold move at the very beginning of her time in office. She must realize the potential it has to make her look politically weak and even divisive. Most people would be looking for a quick win as a way to start, most would see the importance of compromise with lawmakers so that they avoid a term full of political paralysis.
It seems that the new governor’s mind is still on the campaign trail where the focus has to be energizing your base and making Republicans look stodgy and unwilling to change. But politics is different than running a campaign, and an olive branch is often necessary.
May the goal of Hobbs is to garner the spotlight from national media, which she is sure to get from the progressives. They will be all over a pro-choice leader in a rather conservative state like Arizona. Is she already looking beyond the governor’s mansion?
If so, how long will it take before her constituents notice?
This move will position her against the outgoing Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, who is enforcing the 15-week law.
According to the Arizona Republic, enforcing two opposing laws on the book will go directly to a state appeals court.
Many believe that Hobbs should take some time to let the legal system deal with this issue and not strain her relationship with the state legislature from the get-go.
It looks like it is going to be a long four years in Arizona with such a vast difference between the new leadership and the existing legislature.
Katie Hobbs, welcome to the hot seat.