Arizona GOP primary tests the power of Trump’s election lies

PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans in Arizona decided on Tuesday between a well-known former news anchor and a development lawyer in the race for governor of a crucial battleground state.

Former president donald trump backed Kari Lake, who quit her nearly three-decade career in TV news and embraced her lies about the 2020 election. She took on Karrin Taylor Robson, who was backed by prominent Republicans around the country seeking to push their party to leave Trump.

The race was too early to be announced, with Lake and Robson separated by a slim margin.

As the midterm primary season enters its final stretch this month, Arizona races are poised to provide important clues about the GOP leadership. Victories for Trump-backed candidates could provide the former president with allies who dominate the election administration as he considers another White House bid in 2024. The defeats, however, could suggest the party’s openness to another way.

The former president endorsed and campaigned for a list of suitors who support her lies, including Lake, who says she allegedly refused to certify President Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Arizona. Robson said the GOP should focus on the future despite an election she called “unfair”.

In the race to oversee elections as Arizona’s secretary of state, Trump also backed a state lawmaker who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and claims the former president was cheated out of victory.

“I think the majority of people, and a lot of people who support Trump, want to move on,” said former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who supports Robson. “I mean, it was two years ago. Let’s go. Let’s move.”

The election is taking place on one of the biggest midterm primary nights of the year — one that has had harbingers for Republicans.

In Kansas, voters rejected a state constitutional amendment this would have allowed the legislator to restrict or prohibit abortion. They were the first voters to speak out on abortion rights since the US Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

The rejection in a conservative state is a sign of potential energy for Democrats, who hope anger over the court’s abortion ruling will overcome inflation concerns and President Joe Biden’s waning popularity.

Tudor Dixona conservative commentator, won the GOP primary for governor of Michigan, emerging atop a group of little-known conservatives days later Trump endorsed it. She will face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in November.

Republican Representative Peter Meijer lost to a Trump-backed challenger and two Washington lawmakers were battling to retain their seats after voting to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 uprising.

And in Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the Republican nomination for senator and will face Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, heiress to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune. And two Republican House members from Washington state who voted to impeach Trump are facing the main challengers.

But the contests are particularly salient in Arizona, a longtime Republican stronghold that has become more pro-Democratic in recent years due to explosive growth in and around Phoenix. The fall primary and election will tell whether Biden’s success here in 2020 was a one-time event or the start of a long-term shift away from the GOP.

With the stakes so high, Arizona has been at the center of efforts by Trump and his allies to cast doubt on Biden’s victory with false allegations of fraud.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general said there was no credible evidence the election was tainted. The former president’s fraud allegations have also been flatly dismissed by the courts, including by Trump-appointed judges. A manual recount led by Trump supporters in largest Arizona county found no evidence of a stolen election and concluded that Biden’s margin of victory was larger than the official tally.

Although Trump is still the most popular figure in the GOP, his efforts to influence this year’s primary election have had mixed results. His favorite candidates in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania won in their primaries.

But in Georgia, another state that is central to Trump’s election, lies its hand-picked candidate for governor. was defeated more than 50 percentage points. Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State was also fame on a primary Trump-backed rival.

“You have entrusted me with your most sacred possession in a constitutional republic – your vote,” Robson told supporters as she awaited the election results.

The former president hopes he will have more success in Arizona, where incumbent Governor Doug Ducey cannot run again. This could give Trump a better opportunity than in Georgia to sway the winner.

Lake is well known across much of the state after anchoring the evening news in Phoenix for more than two decades. She has portrayed herself as a fierce critic of the mainstream media, which she says is unfair to Republicans and other enemies of Trump’s Make America Great Again movement, including the family of the late Sen. John McCain.

A staunch supporter of Trump’s campaign lies, Lake said her campaign was “already detecting thefts” in her own race, but she repeatedly refused to provide evidence to support that claim.

Robson, whose real estate developer husband is one of the wealthiest men in the state, mostly self-funds his campaign. The GOP establishment, increasingly comfortable walking away from Trump, has rallied behind her over the past month with a series of endorsements from Ducey, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence.

The wave of establishment support for Robson has drawn national attention to the race for what she says on the GOP base ahead of the crucial presidential primary two years from now.

“Everybody wants to try and make it kind of a proxy for 2024,” said Christie, who ran for president in 2016. “Trust me, I’ve been through enough to know that 2024 will be decided by people down to the plate…and how they work or don’t work at that point.

Robson is running a largely old-fashioned Republican campaign focused on cutting taxes and regulations, securing the border, and advancing school choice. She also pointed to Lake’s past support for Democrats, including a $350 contribution to the last Democratic president.

“I can’t vote for anyone who supported Barack Obama,” said Travis Fillmore, 36, a firearms instructor from Tempe who had planned to vote for Robson. He said he remains a Trump supporter and believes the 2020 election was stolen from him, but Lake’s support for Obama was disqualifying.

On the Democratic side, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs defeated Marco Lopez, former mayor of Nogales and a border enforcement official during the Obama administration.

As Arizona’s top election official, Hobbs endeared himself to Democrats with a passionate defense of the integrity of the 2020 election, a stance that drew death threats. However, it was weighed down by a discrimination case won by a black political adviser from Hobbs’ time in the Legislative Assembly.

Trump-backed Blake Masters won the Arizona GOP Senate race. He is a 35-year-old first-time candidate who has spent most of his career working for billionaire Peter Thiel, who is funding his campaign. Masters focused on cultural grievances driving the right, including critical race theory and allegations of big tech censorship.

Until Trump’s endorsementthe race had no clear precursor among the masters, businessman Jim Lamon and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, all of whom maneuvered for his support.

Lamon said Trump erred in endorsing the Masters and dug into his own fortune to highlight the Masters’ ties to tech companies and his writings as a student supporting open borders. Lamon signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won Arizona in 2020 and was one of the state’s “duly elected and qualified” voters.

Trump soured on Brnovich and may have torpedoed his campaign when the attorney general’s voter fraud investigation did not result in criminal charges against election officials.

The Masters will face incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly in the fall.

The Republican race for Arizona secretary of state was won by Mark Finchem, a Trump-backed candidate who was on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021. His contender included Shawnna Bolick, a state lawmaker who made pushing for legislation allowing the Legislature to overrule voters and decide which candidate will get the state’s 11 electoral votes for president. The GOP establishment has rallied behind ad executive Beau Lane, who says there were no widespread problems with the 2020 election.

Speaker of the Republican State House rusty arborswho testified to the House committee on January 6 on Trump’s pressure campaign after the 2020 election, was defeated by a Trump-backed challenger in his attempt to ascend to the State Senate.

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