Cary Lake, the former television news anchor who built a campaign to castigate the media as propagandists and promote lies about the 2020 election, won the GOP nomination for governor in Arizona on Thursday night.
Lake will face Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the state’s chief election officer, in November, setting up a showdown that will be framed as pro-choice vs. pro-choice.
The Trump-backed former anchor of a Phoenix Fox affiliate beat Karrin Taylor Robson, a real estate developer and attorney backed by term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Taylor Robson had an early lead after the polls closed Tuesday, but Lake moved ahead overnight as votes were counted on Election Day. As of Wednesday morning, Lake was leading by less than 12,000 votes.
Lake gave a confident speech to supporters at her election night party in Scottsdale, while also casting unfounded doubt about the election system. the Arizona Republic reported.
“I wanted to come out here tonight [and] say, ‘Wow, we already have the final results,'” he said. “But we know how our electoral systems work and they don’t work well. And that’s one of the reasons I’m standing here.”
The GOP primary for governor was seen as a proxy war between Trump and Ducey, who became enemies after Ducey endorsed Joe Biden. Lake said that as governor, it wouldn’t do the same in 2020, often calling the election “corrupt” and “stolen”. Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to hold Arizona in 24 years.
Trump campaigned for Lake last month, calling her a “really great woman” at the rally on the same day Pence, who is widely seen as preparing for his own 2024 presidential campaign against Trump, campaigned for Taylor Robson .
A minor celebrity in Arizona’s largest media market, Lake enjoyed a sharp lead in early polls, but the race tightened after Ducey’s endorsement. Taylor Robson also spilled more than 15 million dollars of her own luck in the race.
The matchup has largely been politicized around Trump in a fractious state grappling with a water crisis and border security concerns.
“[Taylor Robson] has a narrative for her campaign that is distinctly different from Lake’s. The only thing Lake talks about is the stolen election and Trump and immigration. Karrin has a more nuanced narrative and expresses a more confident stance on governance that one would expect Republican voters to respond to,” GOP strategist Chuck Coughlin told HuffPost before the primary.
“But how high is the fever of Trumpism still in the Republican Party? This is a risky bet.”
This is Lake’s first run for political office after a three-decade career as a television news anchor.
After what former colleagues described to HuffPost as pretty rough years that roughly lined up with Trump’s presidency — when he began using far-right social media platforms Parler and Gab — Lake left the station in 2021 and launched the campaign her for governor shortly after. Before turning hard to the right, Lake was a supporter of Barack Obama and reportedly shared a “not my president” meme. for Trump before his inauguration.
Since leaving the media, Lake has called people in her former profession “corrupt” and “rotten” and said some journalists they deserve to be closed.
Lake has campaigned alongside Mark Finchem, a Republican senator who shares her fringe views on the 2020 election and has the support of some far-right figures linked to Trump. Democrats who see it as a liability he had reinforced Lake in elementary school hoping to have an easier opponent to beat in November.
But with a Republican governor and GOP-controlled legislature and two Democratic U.S. senators, Arizona is known for its independent streak, giving either party a chance to win as Joe Biden’s approval rating falls.
“Given where the electorate is” — on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border and inflation — “I think the state is leaning Republican, even if Carey Lake is the nominee,” said Kirk Adams, former chief of staff Ducey and former speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.
“For any Democrats or progressives hoping for a nomination for Lake, be careful what you wish for, because you could end up with Governor Lake,” he said.