Kari Lake Carves Out Early Lead in Arizona Senate Primary

Senator Sinema, if she throws her hat in the ring, could play more of a spoiler for Republicans than Democrats.

Rebecca Noble/Getty Images
Kari Lake on May 23, 2023, at Phoenix. Rebecca Noble/Getty Images

A television news host, fierce supporter of President Trump, and one-time Arizona gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, is gearing up to enter the Arizona Senate race, and it looks like she’s the early favorite to win the Republican nomination.

Handicappers and pollsters have speculated Ms. Lake might throw her hat in the ring, given her celebrity status among some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters and her candidacy for Arizona governor in 2022.

In April, a J.L. Partners poll indicated that she led the field with 38 percent support among Republican respondents, a 28-point lead over businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robinson, who carried 10 percent support.

Since then, Ms. Lake’s popularity has only expanded, with an Emerson College poll released August 8 indicating that she enjoys 42 percent support among the Arizona Republicans who responded to the poll.

Sheriff Mark Lamb followed Ms. Lake in second place, with 11 percent support, and venture capitalist Blake Masters, the state’s Republican nominee for Senate in 2022, enjoyed 7 percent support.

It also looks like Ms. Lake’s political apparatus is taking concrete steps toward announcing her candidacy in 2024, with Axios reporting that Ms. Lake is hiring staff ahead of an October campaign announcement.

“When President Trump gets back in the White House he’s going to need fighters like Kari Lake in Washington, D.C., to help enact his Agenda 47,” a senior GOP advisor, Caroline Wren, told Axios.

The upshot of a Lake candidacy is that Republicans could once again kneecap themselves in the general election. Arizona already rejected Ms. Lake in her gubernatorial bid, and it’s not clear how she has become a better candidate since her 2022 loss.

In Ms. Lake’s case, her opponent, Governor Hobbs, implemented a campaign strategy similar to President Biden’s 2020 strategy — keeping a low profile for much of the campaign season. Despite widespread criticism from Democrats, the strategy worked.

Complicating matters is a potential re-election bid from Senator Sinema, the incumbent. She has not yet announced her candidacy but, since she has left the Democratic Party to become an independent, it looks as if she might play a spoiler role in the general election if she runs.

Emerson College also conducted polling on a general election matchup between Congressman Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, Ms. Sinema, and Mr. Lamb. What it found is that in a head-to-head matchup between Mr. Gallego and Mr. Lamb, the two are currently tied at 42 percent support each, with 16 percent undecided.

In a matchup between Mr. Gallego, Mr. Lamb, and Ms. Sinema, Mr. Gallego carries 36 percent support, Mr. Lamb is at 29 percent, and Ms. Sinema has 21 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

“It appears Senator Sinema pulls more support from Republican voters than Democrats on the ballot,” pollster Spencer Kimball said. “About 21 percent of Republicans would vote for Sinema with Lamb on the ballot. By contrast, Sinema only pulls about 8 percent of Democratic support from Gallego.”

Two issues core to Ms. Lake as a candidate is her outspokenness in her beliefs that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate and that she actually won the 2022 gubernatorial election.

Ms. Lake’s adamance in her assertion that Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was illegitimate were key to his endorsement of Ms. Lake in 2022, when repeating Mr. Trump’s claims were often a litmus test for candidates seeking his approval and that of his supporters.

Ms. Lake has also claimed, without evidence, that she was actually the winner of the 2022 gubernatorial election, though she has failed to back up her claims in multiple different court cases.

In the latest ruling against Ms. Lake, a Maricopa County superior court judge, Peter Thompson, who was appointed by Governor Brewer, a Republican, ruled that there was no “clear and convincing evidence or a preponderance of evidence” to back up Ms. Lake’s claims that election officials had covered up alleged fraud.

All of Ms. Lake’s trumpeting of election fraud claims, combined with stunts like personally vacuuming a red carpet in anticipation of Mr. Trump’s arrival, has led to speculation that she is seeking the vice presidential spot on Mr. Trump’s 2024 ticket.

There have been conflicting reports on whether Mr. Trump favors Ms. Lake as a vice presidential pick, though it’s clear that she is going to lengths to seek his favor, including spending a great deal of time at Mar-a-Lago between her election loss and early July, according to a Vanity Fair report.

In terms of the issues that are currently driving voter’s preferences in Arizona, the economy in general and immigration are tied for first place in Emerson College’s issue survey, with 22 percent of respondents considering each their top priority.

Threats to Democracy came next, with 14 percent saying it was their top issue, followed by education at 10 percent, housing availability at 9 percent, abortion access at 6 percent, crime at 6 percent, and healthcare at 5 percent.

The survey of 1,337 registered Arizona voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 points. Mr. Lake’s political organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The New York Sun

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