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Trump-backed Kari Lake wins Arizona's GOP governor primary

Trump's made-for-TV endorsee just defeated Karrin Taylor Robson to become Arizona's Republican nominee for governor.


Kari Lake, a right-wing conspiracy theorist endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has won Arizona's Republican gubernatorial primary election, NBC News projected on Thursday.

She defeated several other candidates, including the race's other front-runner, Karrin Taylor Robson, a slightly less conspiratorial conservative who was seen as the establishment candidate.

Lake, who once donated to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, has remade herself in Trump's image. Picture someone just as bigoted, self-serving and proudly fascist as Trump, but who speaks with the banal and over-rehearsed intonation of a local news anchor.

She has no political history in Arizona, and is only known in the state for her time on television. It took just a few years for Lake, a former anchor for Phoenix’s Fox affiliate, to pivot from a seemingly anodyne talking head to a full-on fascist. 

Years ago, she lost her job at Fox following a series of controversies, including the revelation she used Parler, a platform popular among white supremacists. From there, Lake began slithering her way through the seedy world of right-wing politics and ingratiating herself with that world’s power brokers, including and QAnon-linked activists and at least one Nazi sympathizer. Most importantly for her political fortune, she happily parroted Trump’s lies alleging fraud in the 2020 election, which helped her snag Trump's endorsement in September. 

In the endorsement, Trump — months removed from his attempt to overturn Joe Biden's election win — claimed Lake “will fight to restore Election Integrity (both past and future!)” Truly, that tells you all you need to know about the type of governor Lake would be: an illiberal one.

And she showed signs of this during the campaign, beyond her frequent appearances with archconservative ne’er-do-wells. 

In April, she and a bunch of right-wing figures, including conspiracy theorist pillow pusher Mike Lindell, sued to bar Arizona from using voting machines in November’s elections. That suit is premised on the debunked conspiracy theory that “fraudulent” machines were used in the 2020 election. Lake channeled Trump once more just last week, when she baselessly claimed Tuesday's primary election was plagued with fraud — days before polls even opened. 

“We’re already detecting some stealing going on," Lake told attendees at a campaign stop, according to The Arizona Republic.

It was a blatant lie, and you can expect more of that from professional teleprompter-reader-turned-politician Lake if she wins in November. 

Lake will face off against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the general election, and the differences between the two candidates couldn’t be more stark. Hobbs, the state’s top election official, was targeted by Trump allies in their efforts to undermine the election. Lake is a fount of election lies, who would surely use her power to suppress votes in one of the fastest-growing and most increasingly liberal states in the country

And I caution those thinking she can’t win to consider one thing: This is Arizona we’re talking about. Republicans have a history of successfully nominating right-wing crackpots for governor, from Evan Mecham to Fife Symington to Jan Brewer

For Arizona’s sake, let’s hope Lake doesn’t join that list. With her primary win, she’s dangerously close to doing so.