Kari Lake, a former news anchor who walked away from her journalism career and was embraced by Donald Trump and his staunch supporters, won the Republican primary for Arizona governor on Thursday.
Lake’s victory was a blow to the GOP establishment that lined up behind lawyer and businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson in an attempt to push their party past the Trump era.
Lake said she would not have certified Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory and put claims of election fraud at the center of her campaign.
“Arizonans who have been forgotten by the establishment just delivered a political earthquake,” Lake said in a statement after the race was called.
Republicans now enter the general election sprint with a slate of nominees, closely allied with Trump, who deny that Biden was legitimately elected president.
Lake will face Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the November election.
“This race for governor isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s a choice between sanity and chaos,” Hobbs said Thursday night in a statement on Lake’s victory.
Early election results showing only mail ballots received before Election Day gave Robson a solid lead, but that was whittled down as votes from polling places were added to the tally.
Lake’s victory became clear Thursday when Maricopa County released results from thousands of mail ballots dropped off at the polls on Tuesday.
“The voters of Arizona have spoken,” Robson said in a statement conceding to Lake late Thursday. “I accept the results; I trust the process and the people who administer it.”
In a mid-term primary season with mixed results for Trump’s favored candidates, the former president came out on top in Arizona, a state that has been central to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and cast doubt on Biden’s victory.
In addition to Lake, Trump’s picks for U.S. Senate, secretary of state, attorney general, U.S. House and the state Legislature all won their GOP primaries.
If they win in November, Trump allies will hold sway over the administration of elections in a crucial battleground state as he considers another bid for the White House in 2024.
The results also show that Trump remains a powerful figure in the GOP as longtime party stalwarts get increasingly bold in their efforts to reassert control ahead of the next presidential campaign.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all campaigned for Robson in the days before the election.
Robson, who is married to one of Arizona’s richest men, largely self-funded her campaign. She called the 2020 election “unfair” but stopped short of calling it fraudulent and pushed for the GOP to look toward the future.
Lake now faces the task of uniting the Republican Party after a difficult primary. On Wednesday, she attempted to reach out to Robson and others she fiercely criticized as RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only, who don’t align with Trump on key issues.
“Frankly, this party needs her to come together, and I welcome her,” Lake said of Robson. “And I hope that she will come over for this.”
Robson said she’s spent her life supporting Republicans, “and it is my hope that our Republican nominees are successful in November.”
Lake said she has no plans to stop talking about election fraud even as she seeks to broaden her appeal beyond the loyalists who powered her primary victory.
Hobbs, Lake’s opponent in November, went after the candidate over her opposition to abortion rights and gun control and a proposal she floated to put cameras in every classroom to keep an eye on teachers.
Republicans need to make an appeal to the independent voters who decide close races, said Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Republican strategist who left the party during the Trump era.
“I see it as a challenge the Republicans are going to have: How do they narrate to unaffiliated voters?” Coughlin said.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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