Kari Lake: The election-denying Republican candidate for governor who just might make it to the White House | US News


“You can call me Trump in a dress any day”, Kari Lake told a cheering crowd at a campaign rally.

Endorsed by Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for Arizona governor has learnt much from the rhetorical style and political tactics of the former president.

Ms Lake is a so-called “election denier” who has questioned the result of the 2020 presidential vote, yet she remains one of the sensations of the midterm elections.

Democrats worry she may soon be Mr Trump’s 2024 running mate or even a credible – and they argue dangerous – candidate for the White House.

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Republican candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake speaks during a campaign stop on the Arizona First GOTV Bus Tour in Queen Creek, Arizona, U.S., November 6, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Like Mr Trump, Ms Lake built her profile and fine-tuned her communication skills through television, anchoring Arizona’s local news broadcasts for 22 years.

On election results night 2020, as Mr Trump’s chances of victory were slipping away, she was in the TV studio resisting announcing Joe Biden had narrowly won her state.

Arizona later became ground-zero for the “Stop The Steal” movement to challenge that knife-edge result.

Ms Lake quit her highly-paid presenting job, complaining some in the media were “unethical, biased, completely immoral”. She has since called reporters “monsters”.

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A sign of Republican candidate for Governor of Arizona Kari Lake, endorsed by former U.S. President Donald Trump, is seen before a rally ahead of the midterm elections in Mesa, Arizona, U.S., October 9, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Now Ms Lake is one of a slate of Trump-backed candidates in Arizona, all but one of whom have questioned the veracity of the 2020 presidential election.

If successful, she will lead an administration responsible for overseeing the 2024 contest in a state which could swing the result.

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If she wins the gubernatorial vote, she would certify the results in her state of the next presidential election – or not

Kari’s contradictions

Ronald Reagan may have been Ms Lake’s hero and the reason she cites for registering as a Republican on the day she turned 18, but since then she has also been a registered Democrat and a donor to both John Kerry and Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

While Mr Biden has not visited the state during this race, Mr Obama has, telling supporters: “This isn’t a reality show. If Kari Lake is your governor, we know what she’ll be focused on – because Donald Trump told us.”

Arizona’s border with Mexico means immigration is a big election issue here. Six years ago, Ms Lake suggested providing amnesty for undocumented migrants, but now she says she will declare an “invasion” on the southern border.

Critics say her views on guns, abortion and even drag queens have shifted.

Merchandise for Kari Lake, gubernatorial candidate in Arizona. For James Matthews piece
Pro-Kari Lake merchandise has proved popular

Can she win?

Opinion polls suggest Ms Lake is just ahead of her Democrat opponent – the quieter, slightly awkward Katie Hobbs – although within the margin of error.

Ms Hobbs has attracted criticism for refusing to debate her Republican rival. She has framed the fight not about policy but democracy: “This race for governor is not about Democrats or Republicans”, she said. “It is a choice between sanity and chaos.”

Considering Ms Lake’s scepticism of recent elections, it is no surprise she refuses to commit to accepting any result.

She told Sky News she will accept the results of a “fair, honest and transparent” election.


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