GOP doubts grow over Kari Lakes future in Arizona
Republicans are expressing doubts about the future in Arizona for Kari Lake, the Trump-backed GOP gubernatorial candidate who has nearly exhausted her long-shot legal challenge to last month’s election.
Lake has dug into unproven claims of misconduct and voter disenfranchisement since her loss to Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D), most recently appealing a state judge’s dismissal of the case days before Hobbs’s inauguration.
She’s given every indication that she doesn’t want to leave the spotlight of the Arizona race, while signaling she’d like to follow in former President Trump’s footsteps by refusing to concede defeat.
Yet even as Lake insists she’ll one day be sworn in as the state’s governor — a pitch that might spark hope among her most fervent supporters — Republicans in the state are saying her continued push may just sink her further. Close Thank you for signing up!
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“It’s done in Arizona,” said Arizona Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin.
“I think the enormous amount of ill will that she’s going to create as a result of the appeal — I mean, it’s OK to file a case, but then some of the stuff she’s been saying on media and posts and just the degradation of the Arizona institutions — I think is really going to hurt her out here,” Coughlin added. “And I don’t really think she’s got a future in terms of her own electoral space here in Arizona.”
Trump used his own baseless claims about losing the 2020 election to keep his followers interested.
Lake before and after Election Day in Arizona has followed a similar course. Even before she was defeated, she had suggested she would only accept a result that showed she had won.
The Lake campaign did not return a request for comment for this story.
Trump himself has seen his stock fall since the midterm elections. The GOP failed to take back the Senate majority and did not pick up as many seats as it had hoped in the House. Several Trump-backed candidates underperformed.
That’s added to the lack of confidence in Lake’s future in the state, even as some suggested her loyalty to the former president could make her a player in the former president’s new campaign.
Arizona-based GOP strategist Barrett Marson suggested Lake could serve as a spokesperson for Trump, though he wasn’t convinced Trump will be inclined to choose her as a running mate.
“If she had won this race, if she had become governor, yes,” said Marson. “But now — you can be a lot of things in Trump World, but you can’t be a loser.”
Trump endorsed Lake in her primary against Karrin Taylor Robson, who had the backing of outgoing Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Videos posted to social media show Lake appearing at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida since her loss, and the former president himself has suggested Lake should be installed as governor as Trump promoted falsehoods about Arizona’s election.
Coughlin said Lake could serve as a key surrogate for Trump when he attempts to win the state in two years.
“I see it more as a stepping stone into whatever ’24 presidential cycle holds, and how she can be a spokesperson for a Trump candidacy,” Coughlin said.
Like Trump, Lake regularly antagonized the mainstream media during the campaign, telling a group of reporters on Election Day that she would be their “worst fricking nightmare” if she won the governorship.
The former television news anchor became known for her enchanting video background and media-ready presence, and since her loss Lake has largely appeared on conservative media outlets, including on former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon’s “War Room” podcast.
“I am standing up for the people of this state, the people who were done wrong on Election Day and the millions of people who live outside of Maricopa County whose vote was watered down by this bogus election in Maricopa County,” Lake said during an appearance on Tuesday.
Marson said that experience has given Lake another future path of potentially returning to a media gig following Hobbs’s inauguration, perhaps even joining Bannon’s show.
“This whole campaign was just an audition for either RBSN, OANN, NewsMax, some conservative outlet,” Marson said. “And so if that was her end goal, she obviously did pretty well. And she could probably get some sort of anchorship or gig on one of those channels.”
Lake’s campaign marks the latest high-profile loss for the Arizona GOP in recent years.
Trump won the state in 2016, when Arizona had two Republican senators and a Republican governor. But the GOP has since lost both Senate seats, and now Arizona’s governorship will flip to the Democrats. Women, dog kicked off Amtrak train in viral video Pro boxing organization announces transgender category
In 2020, Joe Biden narrowly defeated Trump in Arizona’s presidential election, one of only two times the Democratic candidate has carried the state in the last 70 years.
Marson and Coughlin both argued the record shows that for Arizona Republicans to prove successful in future election cycles, the party must depart from Trump-aligned candidates and again embrace mail-in voting.
“In Arizona, Republicans used to dominate early voting,” said Marson. “And I’ll tell you that that propelled Republicans election cycle after election cycle.”