PHOENIX — Two days after polls closed in Arizona, The Associated Press called the Republican primary for governor for former local news anchor Kari Lake, an election-denying new convert to Republican causes.
Former President Donald Trump’s preferred candidate bested a field of GOP hopefuls, but the only other real contender was developer Karrin Taylor Robson. By the end of the campaign, the head-to-head race between two candidates – neither of whom had been elected to office before – was defined by who supported them.
In Lake’s corner was Trump and a wave of the former president’s allies swept up in the false narrative that President Joe Biden stole the election.
Taylor Robson was backed by establishment Republicans, both locally and nationally – including current Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence.
She spent millions of dollars, much of it her own wealth, to brand herself as a more reasonable-sounding Republican, though Taylor Robson’s policies don’t often differ from Lake. Both have similar talking points when it comes to border security and so-called critical race theory. And Taylor Robson did little to dispel concerns about the 2020 election while she criticized Lake for casting doubt on the integrity of the 2022 vote.
But it wasn’t enough to overcome Lake, who took an early lead in polls after Trump’s endorsement in September 2021.
Less than two years ago, Lake was still reading the news on television. In March of 2021, she resigned amid a slew of controversial social media posts, including one spreading a debunked video about COVID-19. Months later, she announced her campaign for governor. Much of her campaign was dedicated to repeating the former president’s election lies, both old and new – Lake even spent the past few weeks baselessly claiming fraud in Arizona’s current vote.
Now she’ll face Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who made a name for herself in 2020 for opposite reasons – defending the integrity of the 2020 election as the secretary of state, the top election official in Arizona.