Republicans in Arizona have chosen Kari Lake, the former television journalist who has become a leading voice behind former President Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud, as their nominee for governor, CNN projects.
Her victory makes her the fourth Republican who has pushed Trump’s election lies to win a major nomination in Arizona, after CNN’s projections earlier this week for US Senate, secretary of state and attorney general.
Lake, who was endorsed by Trump, will defeat Karrin Taylor Robson, a former member of the state Board of Regents and the establishment GOP favorite, who was supported by outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence.
The race in its closing days turned into a proxy battle in the tug-of-war between Trump and Pence over the direction of the Republican Party, with Trump visiting Arizona to campaign for Lake and a slate of election deniers he had endorsed for statewide office and Pence campaigning alongside Robson.
Lake has made lies about election fraud the centerpiece of her campaign – an approach likely to continue in a November general election matchup against Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state who has defended Arizona’s 2020 presidential results and its largely mail-in voting system.
Hours before polls closed, Lake had already declared to reporters that either she would win or the outcome would be fraudulent.
“If we don’t win, there’s some cheating going on. And we already know that,” she said Tuesday.
In Arizona’s other top races, Blake Masters, the onetime venture capitalist, will secure the Republican nomination for US Senate, while Arizona Republicans have chosen state Rep. Mark Finchem, an election denier, as their nominee to take the helm of the state’s election machinery, CNN projects. And in the attorney general’s race, Trump’s preferred candidate, election denier Abraham Hamadeh, won the Republican nomination, CNN also projects.
Masters will face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who was unopposed in his primary Tuesday, in what’s expected to be one of the nation’s most competitive, and expensive, midterm match-ups, with control of the 50-50 Senate on the line.
Masters was chief operating officer of GOP megadonor Peter Thiel’s investment firm, and his campaign was backed by more than $15 million in spending by Thiel.
Masters, who has spread lies about the results of the 2020 election and accused Democrats of trying to “change the demographics” of the country, defeated businessman Jim Lamon and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, among others, in the GOP primary Tuesday.
Finchem is aiming to be the chief elections officer in a state that conducts its voting largely by mail and has been the target of a series of conspiracy theories advanced by Trump and his allies, who falsely allege that the 2020 election was stolen from the former President. The Arizona secretary of state is the state’s second-highest executive elected official and first in line to succeed the governor, as the state does not have a lieutenant governor.
Finchem was a member of the far-right “Oath Keepers” in 2014 and was an organizer of the “Stop the Steal” movement spurred by Trump’s lies about election fraud.
Finchem has said the state legislature should be able to overturn the will of voters in presidential elections – a position that, if embraced by Republicans after November’s election, could lead to a crisis in the 2024 election in one of the nation’s most competitive battleground states.
He’ll face Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, in the fall.
This story has been updated with additional information.