Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
Some people have described Kari Lake as a “Donald Trump in heels.” And like the twice-impeached Republican President who endorsed her candidacy to be Arizona’s next governor, the election-denying Lake poses a threat to our democratic republic if she wins.
Lake is one of more than 200 GOP candidates across the country who have denied the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win over Trump. But as FiveThirtyEight’s Kaleigh Rogers said recently, “(F)ew have made claims of fraud as central to their campaign as Lake.”
She’s in a league of her own, according to the political website, which wrote that “there are election deniers, and then there’s Kari Lake.”
Lake is running not so much for Arizona governor as against American democracy. Speaking to CNN on Sunday, she would not commit to accepting an election loss next month. Rather than calling politicians like her “election deniers,” she and others of her ilk — especially if they win in November — might well be called “democracy killers.” Her serial lies about the 2020 presidential election range in severity from merely kiss-ups to Trump at the most benign to bizarre recitations of dangerous nonsense.
On the campaign trail, Lake regularly claims that Biden’s 2020 election victory was “corrupt and stolen.” She scoffed about how Biden took the lead in swing states during the overnight vote count after Trump had led earlier, saying sarcastically: “It’s magic!” (Obviously, results change as votes are tallied, as the longtime former television anchor likely is well aware.)
Lake has promoted baseless conspiracy theories that software used by Dominion Voting Systems altered the election results. In August 2021, she doubled down on her unfounded assertion that Trump won Arizona and that official election results were “wildly inaccurate.”
During a June GOP primary debate, Lake declared without a shred of evidence that 34,000 ballots in Arizona “were counted two, three and four times” and, rather oddly, that 200,000 ballots were trafficked by “mules.” The upshot, she said disingenuously, was that Biden “lost the election and shouldn’t be in the White House.”
And in a precursor of what we might expect on election night, Lake claimed in the run-up to her August primary election that the vote was being rigged — again presenting no evidence.
“We’re already detecting some stealing going on,” she declared. A few hours before polls closed, she repeated the bogus claim of election fraud. After emerging victorious, Lake slightly modified her story, telling reporters: “We out-voted the fraud.”
Lake only supports election results she agrees with, and had she been governor in 2020, she has said that she would have refused to certify Biden’s victory. Lake is basically telling anyone who will listen that she is prepared to use the levers of government to overturn the will of the people.
Dangerously, Lake has also called for imprisoning her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs — Arizona’s secretary of state — for unspecified alleged election offenses. It doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence that Hobbs has committed any crimes. Apparently standing up for democracy is crime enough for Lake.
Lake has also called for the imprisonment of journalists she claims have lied about the election. She opposes vaccine mandates, she has demonized drag queens and declared at a conservative summit that women are inherently inferior. “God did not create us to be equal to men,” she said.
Perhaps most alarming of all is that despite all of this, polls show Lake and her Democratic opponent Hobbs virtually tied, with three weeks remaining until Election Day.
The voters of Arizona have a clear choice between Hobbs, who fights for election integrity, and Lake, who will bludgeon democracy if given half a chance.