Now Reading
Trump-backed candidate Kari Lake trails in Az Republican governor primary

Trump-backed candidate Kari Lake trails in Az Republican governor primary

Ex-President Donald Trump endorsed former Phoenix-area TV anchor in Arizona primary

  • Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Tucson on July 12, 2022, during a campaign stop at The Maverick.
    Paul Ingram|TucsonSentinel.comArizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Tucson on July 12, 2022, during a campaign stop at The Maverick.

Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who was backed by former President Donald Trump, was nine points behind her opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson, in the state's Republican primary as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

With 58% of counties reporting, Robson's nine-point lead — with 49% of the vote — contrasts to recent polling. An OH Predictive Analytics poll on July 3 showed a close race between Lake and Robson July 3. Later, opinions broke heavily in favor of Lake, after Trump held a Save America rally in support of Lake and other candidates July 22 in Prescott, Arizona.

According to a recent OH Predictive Analytics poll, Trump’s support and fundraising efforts likely contributed to the increase in support for Lake.

Lake, a former Phoenix-area TV anchor, campaigned on hardline GOP issues like militarizing the U.S.–Mexico border, closing abortion clinics and banning voting machines. Like Trump, Lake has strong election-denying tendencies.

During a debate in June, Lake told the moderator that President Joe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected. Only one of the four candidates offered a different opinion. Robson, who is the runner-up, stopped short of perpetuating fraud claims, instead opting to say the election was “unfair” for the former president.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website, Robson raised $18 million in funds this year compared to Lake’s $3.8 million.

U.S. Senate race

A Trump-endorsed political outsider was leading, however, in the race to be the GOP's nominee for U.S. Senate. Venture capitalist Blake Masters had garnered 34% of the vote, eclipsing Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (20%), by 14 points, and the runner-up Jim Lamon (30%) by 4 points.

The lead comes on the heels of a Trump endorsement that eroded Brnovich’s glide path to Washington.

According to an OH Predictive Insights poll in January, Brnovich had a comfortable 14-point lead in the polls. After Trump questioned Brnovich’s inaction on election fraud concerns, his lead whittled away.

In June, Trump endorsed Masters for the Senate seat, catapulting Masters to a 14-point advantage. Masters, an understudy of Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire with anti-regulation free-market ideologies — has seen his share of controversy. 

In April, Masters criticized Democrats and blamed Black communities for gun violence while appearing on "The Jeff Oravits Show." 

“It’s gangs. It’s people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other," Masters said. "Very often, you know, Black people, frankly. And the Democrats don’t want to do anything about that.”

For some policy issues, Masters has suggested some provocative actions. For example, he advocated privatizing traditional public services like social security and public schooling.

"We need fresh and innovative thinking. Maybe we should privatize Social Security," he said at a June FreedomWorks rally. "Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it."

“It was my first time voting, I found myself registering as a Republican only a few years ago,” said Brad R., a Phoenix Republican, who asked that his last name not be used. “I felt compelled to do so because of left-leaning policies finding their way into the state. Issues important to me are border security, being tough on crime, education rankings compared to other states, power grid and water shortages as the state’s population and average high temperatures rise. I voted for leadership that I felt most confident in trusting to make good decisions on our behalf.”

Brnovich raised $3.1 million compared to Masters’ $4.9 million. The current runner-up, Jim Lamon, raised $15 million, eclipsing both Brnovich and Masters.

Arizona secretary of state race

Lawmaker Mark Finchem continues to lead in the Republican primary for Arizona secretary of state over Beau Lane. With 54% of districts reporting in, Finchem led over Lane 35% to 27%. The state legislator is an unabashed pro-Trump election denier, a fact that is particularly troubling to some because of Finchem’s alleged ties to Jan. 6 fake elector schemes.

Analysts fear Finchem may be able to sway a significant amount of influence over the election cycle as the state’s chief election officer. Like Lake, he believes, without evidence, that the election was stolen from Trump in 2020.

Finchem has been highly visible in conservative circles. In 2014, the lawmaker identified himself as a member of the Oath Keepers.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Oath Keepers as one of the largest far-right antigovernmental groups in the U.S. At least 20 members of the Oath Keepers have been arrested and face criminal charges for their activities Jan. 6.

“I was born and raised in Phoenix, I have watched our progress and it’s encouraging, but we also have a very dangerous slate of GOP candidates running this year,” said Megan Kepler, a Democrat from Phoenix.  “[They] are actively trying to take our rights and personal freedoms as Arizonans. Voting at a local level is the most impactful action we have.”

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website, Finchem has raised $1.2 million in campaign funds.  The GOP runner-up Beau Lane raised $1.1 million.

U.S. 2nd Congressional District Race

In Arizona's 2nd Congressional District, one of the largest in the country spanning northern and central Arizona, a former Navy Seal, Eli Crane, was dominating in an under-publicized race for the GOP congressional nod. Crane was leading with a 7,000-vote advantage.

According to a co/efficient poll from June, Walt Blackman led the pack with 26% support. Ron Watkins, who has denied claims he is the architect of the QAnon movement, polled at 1%.

Blackman seemed to be on a glide path to the GOP nod until former-president Trump endorsed his competitor Crane at a July 22 rally in Prescott, Arizona.

The endorsement came less than two weeks before the primary Election Day and weeks after mail-in ballots were already sent out.

“A highly respected man — just endorsed by me today — future congressman for the 2nd District, Eli Crane,” Trump said at the July 22 Save America rally.

The GOP crowd met his announcement with groans and boos, which led to confusion from the former president.

“Thank you — but you like me, right,” asked Trump.

Crane raised $2 million in funds for his campaign, compared to Blackman's $1 million. Watkins raised a paltry $257,526 in cash.

— 30 —

Best in Internet Exploder