Kari Lake 'Wants to Be' Trump's Running Mate, Source Says: 'She Is Working the Deal'

The former television anchor recently lost her bid for Arizona governor, but a source close to Trump tells PEOPLE she's already plotting her next move

Kari Lake and Donald Trump
From left: Donald Trump, Kari Lake . Photo: Getty; Shutterstock

Donald Trump officially announced his 2024 campaign for president one month ago, and though he has yet to provide any clues on a potential running mate, at least one Trump loyalist already appears to be vying for the role.

A source close to the former president tells PEOPLE that among those interested in the job is Kari Lake, a Republican firebrand who recently lost her bid for Arizona governor.

According to the source, 53-year-old Lake recently traveled to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump in person in an attempt to elevate her from the pack of others being considered for the former president's ticket.

"I believe she wants to be his running mate," the source tells PEOPLE. "She is working the deal. She wants something bigger, fast, to compensate for her loss in Arizona."

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 08: Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake speaks to supporters during her election night event at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch on November 08, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Election results continue to come in the race for Arizona Governor between Kari Lake and Democratic challenger Katie Hobbs. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kari Lake. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Lake — who was endorsed by Trump in her 2022 race — has worked to cast herself in the image of the former president, denying the outcome of both the 2020 presidential election and her own gubernatorial election. (She recently sued Arizona officials, requesting they overturn the results and declare her winner.)

She has also parroted some of Trump's other grievances, such as courting controversy for calling late Arizona Senator John McCain a "loser" after previously praising him as a hero.

Lake's attempts to ingratiate herself with Trump come as the former president is trailing in some polls that pit him against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely rumored to be mulling a 2024 run of his own.

"Trump is competing with DeSantis and DeSantis is competing with Trump," Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County and former member of Florida Senate, tells PEOPLE.

Trump has in recent weeks begun to criticize DeSantis, who won his first race for governor following an endorsement from the former president. In a recent rally, Trump referred to him as "Ron DeSanctimonious," and on Truth Social he argued that the governor was disloyal.

"Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games! The Fake News asks him if he's going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, 'I'm only focused on the Governor's race, I'm not looking into the future.' Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that's really not the right answer," Trump posted to his social media site last month.

Rift Between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump Spills Into Public View
Ron DeSantis (left), Donald Trump. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty; Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The source close to Trump tells PEOPLE that Lake, similar to DeSantis in his first campaign, knows what it takes to get in the former president's good graces.

"Like DeSantis, she learned from Trump how to get attention. And she wants more," the source says. "She knows that they need to appeal to the far right extreme of the party and this is how they do it by barking the loudest even though this group is a minority in the GOP."

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The source says that Lake and Trump share an addiction to power — and that Trump is worried about his stronghold on the Republican Party slipping because of DeSantis.

"Anything Trump announces or does now in the political arena will be from his fear of DeSantis," the source says. "Trump is drowning in litigation, had a poor turnout in the midterm elections, and knows that DeSantis is younger and thinner with a wife and kids."

The source adds: "Trump hasn't really taken his campaign seriously, but with DeSantis getting better poll ratings and more attention, he may get on the ball."

Trump's early announcement that he is running in 2024 comes amid investigations into his conduct on Jan. 6, 2021 — when a mob of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on his behalf in an attempt to stop Joe Biden's election victory from being certified — and his handling of classified documents after leaving office.

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