LOS ANGELES: Donald Trump loyalist and prominent election denier Kari Lake has lost her bid to be governor of Arizona, US networks projected Monday, rounding out a difficult week for the former president as he readies a new run for the White House. Lake, a former TV anchor, had been seen as one of Trump’s most reliable picks heading into the midterm elections, but her defeat caps a run of results that have raised doubts about the former president’s place in the Republican Party.
The projections by major US TV networks come after a week of intense scrutiny of the vote count in Arizona, where Lake and her supporters have repeatedly cast doubt on the competence and integrity of officials. “Democracy is worth the wait,” tweeted Lake’s opponent, Democrat Katie Hobbs. “Thank you, Arizona. I am so honored and so proud to be your next Governor.”
But Lake, who has built her brand on skepticism of the mainstream media and the political establishment appeared to reject the projections. “Arizonans know BS when they see it,” she tweeted, using a euphemism for nonsense. If confirmed by election officials, Hobbs’ victory would mark an end to a bitter election campaign which Lake joined in earnest when she quit local broadcast journalism last year.
The former anchor married her made-for-tv smile to the flame-throwing political style of Trumpism, delighting the Make America Great Again wing of her party. She made denial of the 2020 presidential election win by Joe Biden a key tenet of her campaign, and said that she would not have validated his victory if she had been in the governor’s mansion at the time. Her caustic attacks on journalists and election officials, including the Republicans heading key departments in hotly contested Maricopa County, earned her plaudits with the base.
But they also led to warnings that she was stoking trouble in a country still reeling from the January 2021 assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters. Democratic National Convention chair Jaime Harrison on Monday tweeted his congratulations to Hobbs along with the phrase: “Sanity wins!” Hobbs thanked the voters after her projected win. “For the Arizonans who did not vote for me, I will work just as hard for you – because even in this moment of division, I believe there is so much more that connects us,” she said in a statement quoted by US media.
Trump, who is expected on Tuesday to announce his entry to the 2024 race for the White House, took to his Truth Social platform to denounce the call. “Wow! They just took the election away from Kari Lake. It’s really bad out there!” he wrote, without explaining who “they” were. Lake had declared herself “100 percent confident” that she would prevail, but – in line with Trump’s playbook – had expended a lot of energy sowing doubt about the election system.
Supporters seized upon minor problems with vote tabulation machines in Maricopa County, the home of America’s fifth biggest city, Phoenix, which left some people standing in short lines last Tuesday. Officials have forcefully insisted that no legitimate vote would be excluded, and mounted a well-organized social media campaign to push back at falsehoods circulating online as the count plodded methodically on.
Arizona has been under intense scrutiny for two years since Biden eked out a narrow win in the state. Maricopa County became ground zero for election deniers, who made unfounded claims about ballot stuffing, despite repeated investigations that turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. The slow-moving count in Arizona has been the subject of national – and international – fascination this week as it became increasingly clear that election deniers across the United States had fared badly. Lake was thought of as a leading light in the movement, and Republican Party insiders – as well as media pundits – have noted that regardless of the result, she could be well placed for a spot on a future White House ticket. – AFP