Politics Kari Lake wins Republican nomination for governor in Arizona,...

Kari Lake wins Republican nomination for governor in Arizona, completing sweep of Trump-backed candidates

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Former television news anchor Kari Lake has won the Republican nomination for governor of Arizona, overtaking her opponent’s early lead and completing a victory for Trump-backed candidates in the swing state.

The Associated Press called the race for Lake just after 7 p.m. Thursday. Lake won by a narrow margin, just shy of 3 percentage points over opponent Karyn Taylor Robson.

Having never held elected office before, Lake parlayed his more than two-decade career as a newscaster for Fox 10 in Phoenix into a political success, making him a local celebrity by attacking the news industry.

Lake ran a campaign that peddled stolen election lies and in many ways echoed the brash and populist approach of former President Donald Trump.

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Along the trail, she promised to eradicate homelessness through a combination of securing the state’s southern border and criminalizing those who don’t take advantage of it, using an untested legal theory. Although Lake had already declared victory a day earlier, she did so again in a statement on Thursday evening, raising further doubts about the election process.

“Although the results took longer than they should have, Arizonans who were forgotten by the establishment just delivered a political earthquake,” Lake said. It is typical that election results can take several days as counties vote by mail, drop off and in person.

Taylor Robeson, a real estate developer and former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, had a commanding lead among early voters. But Lake, who has spent months campaigning for early voting and believes all voting should be held on the same day, chose two Election Day voters for every one who voted for Taylor Robson.

Ultimately, those voters helped push Lake to win the Republican nomination. Lake will now campaign against Arizona Secretary of State Democrat Katie Hobbs in the November general election. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who is in his eighth year in office, has reached term limits and cannot run again.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, when she first announced victory, the 52-year-old Lake said she hopes Taylor Robeson, who “put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this battle,” will support her bid for governor.

Asked how Lake could court Taylor Robeson’s endorsement after bitter campaign attacks, Lake offered a personal story of growing up as the youngest of nine siblings in Iowa.

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“You have good times, you have bad times, you have fights, and you have some trouble, but at the end of the day, you’re still brothers and sisters, and you’re still family,” Lake said. “And we are family in this Republican Party. We may not agree on everything. But I think we agree on the most important points today. And I believe that Karin will come because I know for a fact that Karin loves this state.

Although she said just a week ago that she had discovered “stealing” going on in this year’s election, Lake refused to provide evidence. In declaring victory, she said her supporters “voted out fraud.”

The race tested Trump’s strength in AZ

Lake’s narrow victory came after a 15-month campaign that saw unprecedented spending to defeat her and controversies over shady fundraising groups working to support her victory. The race was quickly seen as the latest test of Trump’s power in the Republican Party, and his endorsement last fall certainly helped give Lake a boost.

Trump-backed candidates seeking statewide office had a banner night in Arizona on Tuesday, with each winning their party’s nomination in sometimes crowded fields.

A late-in-the-race campaign rally Trump held in Prescott Valley also helped galvanize support for Lake, and the same day Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence held events elsewhere in the state for Taylor Robeson. The duel drew more attention to Arizona, a battleground state where political observers say either party could win in November.

Kari Lake, Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, holds a news conference at her campaign headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz., on Aug. 3, 2022.

In nominating Lake, Republican voters showed they were still loyal to Trump and ready to depart from Ducey’s establishment wing of the party, which rallied behind Taylor Robeson.

While Taylor Robson portrayed Lake as a false conservative due to his past support of Democratic President Barack Obama, Lake compared Taylor Robson to electing Ducey to another four-year term. On policy, the two leading candidates had many of the same priorities, including securing the state’s southern border, expanding school choice and improving teacher pay.

Two other candidates in the Republican field and a third, former congressman Matt Salmon, who ended his bid for governor in June but still appeared on the ballot late enough. Salmon and Mesa businessman Scott Neely each received votes that could have made the difference between a victory for Lake and Taylor Robson. The former Scottsdale businesswoman Paola Tulliani-Zane finished well behind the race leaders.

Kari Lake, Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, reacts to the crowd as she walks on stage to speak at the Save America rally on July 22, 2022 in Prescott.

At the November general election

With each party’s nominee for governor, the candidates are now focusing on November and wooing Arizona’s independent and moderate voters.

Lake and Hobbes have differences that go beyond their party and policy priorities.

Lake is one of the biggest voices in the state pushing false claims that Trump won the election in 2020. Dozens of lawsuits across the country and an Arizona Senate ballot review found no evidence of widespread, outcome-altering fraud. Meanwhile Hobbes defended the election which he had a constitutional duty to supervise.

Hobbs has called on Arizonans to look forward to 2020 instead of back, but that’s unlikely given the role false claims have played in Lake’s campaign.

“This race for governor is not about Democrats or Republicans,” Hobbs said in a statement late Thursday. “It’s a choice between sanity and chaos. And it’s about electing a leader who will govern with vision and strength. I’m confident that Arizonans will reject Lake and his shameful sideshow, and we’ll win in November.”

A lingering question is whether more traditional Republicans, who like the late Sen. Has endorsed John McCain and aligned with Ducey, who will they support — or will they sit out the race altogether?

With the Arizona Democratic Party already signaling that it would court those voters for supporting Hobbs, Lake issued a list of all the insults he hurled at his fellow Republicans, calling them Republicans in name only and “lords of the swamp”.

“Will the same Republicans who are insulted by Lake hold their noses to support him?” party spokeswoman Jocelyn Berry said.

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