In Arizona, Kari Lake’s Next Move Splits Factions of GOP

Kari Lake’s defeat as Arizona governor has sparked a fierce tug-of-war within the Republican Party. Lake’s right-wing allies encouraged her to challenge the results in a Trump-style fashion, while some establishment leaders, including a former Republican governor, urged her to accept her loss and move on.

Lake’s next move could be a turning point in her party’s history and for the far-right group of election deniers who helped propel her rise this year. Lake is the last candidate to be elected from a group of conspiracy-promoters of 2020. Many of her supporters view her race as a last stand for an infected movement.

However, if she accepts her defeat, it could be evidence that Republicans are analyzing the midterm results and looking at their political futures, as well as following the advice of the establishment, which has tried to restore some normalcy to the elections.

Blake Masters, a Republican who lost Arizona’s Senate race, called Tuesday to congratulate Sen. Mark Kelly. Three days after the race for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Democrat), was called, Adam Laxalt, Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, conceded his defeat.

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“Kari lake has lost the race to my mind. Former Gov. Jan Brewer, a conservative Republican said Tuesday in an interview. “If I were in that situation, I would probably concede. Our democracy is essential to the values of our country and state. We vote people in and we vote people out.”

Other Republicans in power sent a similar message Tuesday, congratulating Katie Hobbs (Democratic secretary of state) on her win in the race. Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, called Hobbs Monday morning. Brewer stated that she planned to call Hobbs later Tuesday.

It is not clear what Lake’s legal challenge might look like. Election officials stated that, despite scattered issues, there were no problems that prevented voters casting their ballots on Election Day.

Lake has not indicated that she is ready to concede. Lake has only suggested, without any evidence, that the vote had been rigged. After The Associated Press had called the race, she tweeted Monday night: “Arizonans recognize BS when it sees it.”

According to two people who were familiar with the plan and spoke under anonymity, the Lake campaign is working with other Republican state campaigns in preparation for a legal battle. Campaign and its allies have been gathering testimonials from voters for several days in preparation to use them in court.

She appeared to be content to keep her profile low Tuesday and keep people guessing, until Donald Trump’s Tuesday night announcement of his presidential campaign. An adviser spoke on condition of anonymity to say that Lake was receiving advice from all sides of Republican politics, but she would still retain her own counsel as she had done throughout her campaign. She was also doing the same at home with her close circle of advisers in Scottsdale.

Hobbs won by less than 1 percentage points. Lake, who was a Phoenix news anchor and whom Republicans considered a rising star in this election season’s campaign, lost to Hobbs. Election-denying firebrands have been calling for Lake to fight the results online and in her campaign’s war room over recent days.

The argument centers largely around a printing issue that delayed the tabulation of hundreds of ballots in Maricopa County and caused confusion at certain polling places. Many of the Maricopa County officials are Republicans and have stated that the issue did in fact allow everyone to vote.

Trump seemed to be one of those encouraging Lake to fight. According to someone familiar with the conversation, Trump called Lake on Sunday and suggested that Democrats were trying to steal his victory in 2020. He wrote on social media that “They just took Kari Lake’s election.”

Trump was silent on Tuesday about the subject before he declared his candidacy for President.

Lake’s other election-denying friends — some of whom were involved in efforts overturn Trump’s defeat in 2020 — kept the drum beat going. Steve Bannon, the radio host that advised Trump in the attempt to reverse the 2020 election results, stumped for Lake, along with other top Arizona Republicans, and called on election officials to not certify the results. Right-wing electoral denial influencer Seth Keshel stated on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform that Lake, whom he claimed he knew, “won’t be conceding any damn thing” and Michael Flynn demanded a count of the results.

Floyd Brown, founder and editor of The Western Journal, tweeted that he spent hours working with Lake team to continue the war against Arizona. Brown was the one behind the racist Willie Horton ads in 1988 and conspiracy theories during the Clinton and Obama eras. She will not sleep through the night. She will stand up and fight.”

Maricopa County is home to over half of the state’s residents. Officials said that the election day problems affected the ballot tabulation machines at about 70 of the 223 voting centers. They blame printers for not printing dark enough markings on the ballots. Voters who had problems were instructed to place their ballots in a safe box so they could be tabulated later.

Republicans sought to extend voting hours on Election Day. Judge Timothy J. Ryan, Maricopa County Superior Court denied their request. Ryan stated that no evidence had been presented to show that voters were denied the right to vote. Republicans dropped the case on Tuesday after the judge granted permission to continue the case.

Republican groups have been gathering stories from voters who witnessed technical difficulties at the polls and set up an online form with an email address so that voters can submit their accounts. Brown and other members of The Western Journal have also been sharing such stories via videos that are shared on social media.

These affidavits may be used in lawsuits alleging that the election was rigged.

Many of the lawsuits seeking to overturn Trump’s presidency election relied in 2020 on similar grounds. In that case, the plaintiffs failed to collect witness accounts from polling stations making unfounded or inconclusive allegations.

Some establishment Republicans raised concerns that a case might be difficult to prove when there have been other wins. For example, Arizona’s Republican treasurer Kimberly Yee received the most votes than any candidate in a contested election. Two House seats were also won by Republicans on Monday, which brought them closer to the control of the House.