August 17, 2022

Carrie Lake, a former news anchor who walked away from her journalistic career and is embraced by Donald Trump and his loyal supporters, won the GOP primary for governor of Arizona on Thursday.

Lake’s victory was a blow to the Republican Party establishment that had lined up behind lawyer and businesswoman Karen Taylor Robson in an effort to push their party beyond the chaotic Trump era. Lake has said she will not certify President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 and is placing false allegations of election fraud at the center of her campaign.

“MAGA got up as if their lives depended on it,” Lake said prematurely declaring victory Wednesday afternoon, the day before the race was called, using an acronym for the Trump Make America Great Again movement. And it’s proven that you can’t buy an election, at least not in Arizona. We the people got up and spoke.”

Robson, who is married to one of Arizona’s richest men, has largely funded her campaign. She called the 2020 election “unfair” but stopped short of calling it fraudulent and prompted the Republican Party to look to the future.

Republicans are now entering the general election race with a slate of candidates closely allied with Trump who deny that Joe Biden is a legitimately elected president. Lake will face Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the November elections.

Early election results showing only ballots received by mail before Election Day gave Robson a solid lead, but that was scaled back as votes from polling places were added to the tally. Lake’s victory became clear Thursday when Maricopa County released the results of thousands of postal ballots dropped at the polls on Tuesday.

In a midterm primary season with mixed results for Trump’s favorite candidates, the former president has taken center stage in Arizona, a state that has been central to his efforts to scrap the 2020 presidential election and cast doubt on Biden’s victory. In addition to Lake, Trump’s picks for the Senate, Secretary of State, Attorney General, the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures won the Republican primary.

If they win in November, Trump’s allies will judge their clout in a glamorous state as he contemplates another bid for the White House in 2024. The results also show that Trump remains a strong figure in the Republican Party as the party’s long-time champion. To become bolder in their efforts to reassert control before the next presidential campaign.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie campaigned for Robson in the days leading up to the election.

Lake now faces an uphill task to unite the Republican Party after a difficult primaries. I tried to reach out to Robson and others I’ve criticized like the RINOs, or Republicans in name only, who don’t align with Trump on major issues.

“Honestly, this party needs her to get together, and I welcome her,” Lake said of Robson. “I hope you come for this.”

Like Trump, Lake is stirring controversy and confrontation. She scolds reporters and dodges questions. She burned masks during the increased spread of the coronavirus in the summer of 2021 and attacked Republicans like Ducey for allowing restrictions on business, even though she, as a news anchor, encouraged people to follow public health guidelines.

Lake spent the days leading up to her election claiming there were signs of fraud, but she refused to provide any evidence. Once her victory is confirmed, she said voters should trust her victory is legitimate.

“We’re out of scams,” Lake said. She cited problems in one county, where she ran out of votes in some districts and had to print more, but she and her attorney, Tim La Sota, refused to provide evidence to support her allegations of fraud.

She said she had no plans to stop talking about election fraud although she needed to expand her appeal beyond the loyalists who supported her primary victory.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s attorney general have said there is no credible evidence that the 2020 election was tainted. Courts, including the judges he appointed, have also dismissed Trump’s allegations of fraud. A manual recount led by Trump supporters in Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest county, found no evidence of election theft, and concluded that Biden’s winning margin was larger than the official number.

Lake’s opponent in November, Hobbs stalked the nominee for her opposition to abortion rights and gun control and a proposal she made to put cameras in every classroom to monitor teachers.

“Quite simply, Carrie Lake is dangerous,” Hobbs told her supporters Tuesday night after winning the Democratic primary by a large margin.

Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Republican strategist who left the party during the Trump era, said Republicans, heading into November as a divided party in Arizona, need to make an appeal to independent voters who decide tight races.

“I see it as a challenge Republicans will face: How do they tell unaffiliated voters?” Coughlin said.

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