Trump-Backed Kari Lake Clinches Arizona's GOP Governor Nomination in Tight Race Against Pence's Candidate

Mike Pence and other members of the Republican establishment had endorsed lawyer and businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson

Kari Lake, Republican gubernatorial candidate for Arizona
Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Arizona governor. Photo: Caitlin O'Hara/Bloomberg/Getty

Former television news anchor Kari Lake secured the Republican Party's nomination for Arizona governor, edging out lawyer and businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson on Thursday, the Associated Press reports. The Donald Trump-endorsed candidate's primary win is seen as a victory for the former president, who's seen mixed results when it comes to recent endorsements.

Arizona's GOP gubernatorial primary was also seen as something of a clash between Trump and the GOP establishment, including his former vice president, Mike Pence, who had endorsed Robson.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey were among other prominent Republicans who also endorsed Robson in a bid to fend off the far-right Lake.

Pence, who has split from Trump in other races around the country, said in a rally held for Robson that she was "the only candidate for governor that will keep Arizona's border secure and streets safe, empower parents and create great schools, and promote conservative values," the AP reports.

But the push from the Republican establishment wasn't quite enough to propel Robson over the finish line, with Lake securing 46.8% of the vote to Robson's 44%.

After the race was officially declared, Lake issued a statement calling her victory "a political earthquake."

Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs, meanwhile, issued a statement of her own, saying, "This race for governor isn't about Democrats or Republicans. It's a choice between sanity and chaos."

The differences between Hobbs and Lake — who will face off in the general election in November — are striking.

Lake, a former Phoenix news anchor for KSAZ, made headlines last year for a video in which she lambasted the way, she said, that journalism had changed in recent years, ultimately leaving her job to pursue a career in politics.

Lake is a vocal Trump ally and has made appearances at right-wing events in which other speakers touted the former president's baseless claims that the November election, which he lost, was rigged or stolen from him.

Hobbs, meanwhile, is Arizona's secretary of state and a Democrat who drew much Republican scorn for defending the state's elections last year from evidence-free allegations of widespread fraud.

In a video announcing her campaign, she sought a contrast between herself and those who support the efforts of the so-called "stop the steal" movement.

"The other side isn't offering policies to make our lives better," Hobbs says as footage showed Trump supporters waving flags as the Arizona audit takes place. "They're offering conspiracies that only make our lives worse."

Pence and Trump endured a falling-out in the final weeks of the administration, with the former vice president being widely criticized by Trump and the Republican base for his refusal to overturn the results of the election won by Joe Biden in 2020.

In their book Peril, authors Robert Costa and Bob Woodward wrote that Trump threatened to sever his relationship with Pence if the latter refused to illegally swing the election.

"You can do this. I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this," Trump told Pence after the then-vice president declined to throw the election, according to an excerpt of the book described by CNN.

Pence, however, would not give in, and said as much in a statement issued as Trump was speaking to his supporters outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

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Since leaving the White House, Pence, a former Indiana lawmaker, has been rumored to be mulling his own run for the presidency in 2024, though he hasn't confirmed that speculation.

Trump has also not officially declared his candidacy for 2024, though he has expressed a desire to run again.

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