ABC News can report that Kari Lake, a former longtime news anchor in Phoenix who left her career in media last year and received former President Donald Trump’s backing in her first run for public office, is projected to win the Republican primary in Arizona’s race for governor, after suggesting foul play in an election she already claimed victory in.
“We outvoted the fraud,” Lake said Wednesday when the race was still too close to call. “The MAGA movement voted like their lives depended on it.”
Lake defeats Karrin Taylor Robson, a wealthy real estate developer and former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, who was backed by Trump’s, now estranged, Vice President Mike Pence and Arizona’s current term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey. Trump and Pence traveled to Arizona on the same day last month to stump for the competing candidates, with Pence warning against “those who want to make this election about the past.”
Taylor Robson spent more than $15 million of her own money on the race, but it was Lake’s “ultra-MAGA” and “America First” stance, coupled with her repetition of Trump’s “Big Lie,” that ultimately prevailed, after a campaign season filled with attack ads from all angles, which Democratic nominee for governor Katie Hobbs described as a “primary race to the bottom.”
Despite a handful of hypocrisy scandals, with Pence swiping her as a “convert” to the GOP who donated to Barack Obama, Lake acknowledged her past support for Democratic causes on the campaign trail, but now takes a far-right stance on social issues. She opposes abortion and transgender rights and made election integrity and border security top campaign issues, saying she would declare an invasion at the southern border on day one as governor.
Entering the general election season, Lake has already said that she would not change her tone but continue to talk about the widely disproven conspiracy that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, even as some Republicans are concerned that if Trump’s candidates don’t moderate their message for the general electorate, it will be harder to win in Arizona in November.
Arizona Republican strategist Barrett Marson, who supported Taylor Robson, told ABC News, “It’ll be up to them [the Trump candidates] to moderate, or to at least start to appeal to the broader audience. I just don’t get telling your voters that there’s fraud in the election that you want and then expect them to continue to come out and vote for you.”
Lake dismissed questions Wednesday on how she could declare victory in an election that she doesn’t have any confidence in and why voters should trust that she won this election fair and square, claiming to have evidence of irregularities but refusing to provide evidence of wrongdoing to the press.
“We’re going with the votes, and we’re going with what the people who really understand what’s happening this election now,” she said.
A first-time candidate for public office who has said she would not have fulfilled her legal duty to certify it in 2020, Lake said, if elected governor, she would sign legislation to eliminate electronic counting machines and move to “one-day voting” in the state where voting by mail is a popular method. On the night of her election watch party in Scottsdale, she wielded a wooden sledgehammer she said was intended for electronic voting machines and Hobbs.
With Lake’s win official, Trump sees a slate of winning candidates in Arizona, his most primary wins in any state, which one strategist told ABC News is “still very much Trump country.”
“President Trump went 14-0 in Arizona as the MAGA wave continues to sweep across the nation. America is a nation in decline under Democrat leadership, but President Trump will not stop until America is made great once more through the election of America First fighters,” Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson for former President Donald Trump, said in a statement to ABC News Wednesday.
Taylor Robson told ABC News “Good Morning America” and “World News Tonight” weekend co-anchor Whit Johnson that Lake priming her supporters for a stolen election — before Lake ultimately won the election herself — should “disqualify” her from the race as many voters in Arizona are already mistrusting in the election process.
While Trump’s endorsed candidates dominating the Arizona primary races, it’s unclear if the same MAGA agenda will show the same success in November.