Steve Benen writes, Why Kari Lake’s GOP victory in Arizona’s governor’s race matters:
It was nearly a year ago when Mike Lindell, the notorious conspiracy theorist and pillow salesman, boasted that he’d only endorsed one 2022 candidate: Kari Lake, who’d launched a Republican gubernatorial campaign in Arizona a few months earlier.
“[T]hat says a lot,” Lindell said. “It says a lot about Kari.”
As CNN’s Daniel Dale joked soon after, “It sure does.”
To our democracy’s great detriment, the list of election deniers seeking powerful offices this year is painfully long, but Lake has stood out as a uniquely ridiculous figure. The Arizona Republican — a former local Fox host seeking elected office for the first time — hasn’t just casually peddled nonsensical lies about Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat. Rather, she’s made election conspiracy theories and hostility for democracy the lifeblood of her statewide candidacy.
Lake has said she wants to see her Democratic opponent — Secretary of State Katie Hobbs — prosecuted for election-related crimes that exist only in Republicans’ imaginations. Lake has also suggested some unnamed journalists [ahem, Brahm Resnik] should be “locked up.” Lake has not only rejected President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Arizona, she’s said she would’ve refused to certify the election tallies — and suggested she’s still interested in decertifying two-year-old results. [Which just proves that she is krazy: there is no such thing as decertifying an election.]
“Krazy Kari” Lake was alleging fraud in her primary election weeks before election day. She has made unsupported claims of fraud about the 2020 election. She has yet to present any evidence of fraud in either election to the proper election authorities, or to law enforcement. To quote the line from the old Wendy’s ad that Walter Mondale used against Gary Hart, “Where’s the beef?” Every reporter in Arizona should be demanding from her every day, “Where’s you’re evidence? Show us your evidence!”
"Where's the beef?" former V.P. Walter Mondale asked of Sen. Gary Hart #OnThisDay in the 1984 Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate. Watch more #throwback political moments in our free @cspan video library: https://t.co/KsaYg0hevN #FlashbackFriday pic.twitter.com/Z0VhYyeWQB
— American History TV (@cspanhistory) March 11, 2022
It is against this backdrop that the first-time candidate won the Republicans’ gubernatorial primary — not despite her bizarre ideas, but because of them. NBC News reported:
Kari Lake, a 2020 election denier who was backed by former President Donald Trump, has won the Republican primary for governor in Arizona, beating Karrin Taylor Robson, a candidate endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence, NBC News projects.
There is a degree of irony to the circumstances. On election night, as vote totals came in, Robson appeared to have a modest advantage, but overnight ballot “dumps” — the kind of updates Trump and his followers routinely condemn as evidence of something — put Lake back on top. [The red mirage, blue shift phenomenon.]
The nominee had spent weeks insisting that election fraud was a problem in her own primary. But once the race was called, Lake didn’t say that the results shouldn’t be certified until after her fraud claims received thorough scrutiny; she instead embraced her victory.
[T]o an unsettling degree, it seems obvious that democracy itself is on the ballot in Arizona this year. As NBC News’ report added, “Lake’s victory, coupled with primary wins in the state for two other election deniers, Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, and Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for state attorney general, means Arizona could have election deniers in place in the top positions overseeing elections and certifying and defending results in the important swing state.”
That’s no small detail. If the GOP ticket prevails in Arizona this year, unhinged conspiracy theorists will hold each of the state’s top three offices — governor, attorney general, and secretary of state — ahead of the 2024 cycle.
Indeed, between now and then, Lake, if elected, is eager to change how Arizonans are able to cast ballots. The Washington Post reported last week, “If Lake wins on Tuesday and goes on to take the governorship in this purple state, she has pledged to try to enact election-related policies that could fundamentally upend the way people vote and how their votes are counted. Her stances and comments alarm many current and former election officials and other, more conventional Republicans.”
Among the proposed changes are the elimination of mail-in voting in Arizona [used by upwards of 90% of Arizona voters], as well as eliminating all voting machines [see link to the post about Mike Lindell’s lawsuit against voting machines, above.]
As for what happens in the event of Democratic candidates possibly winning elections in the Grand Canyon State anyway, Lake hasn’t offered any guarantees that she’s prepared to accept results she doesn’t like.
Oh, we know for certain that “Krazy Kari” Lake will continue making unsupported claims of fraud is she is not forced to account for her claims of fraud in her primary election, and her claims that she has evidence of fraud in the 2020 election. “Krazy Kari” Lake should proceed no further until she produces her “evidence” to the proper election authorities, or to law enforcement for evaluation. She has built her enitre campaign upon the Big Lie, and it is the hill that her campaign will die on.
If she fails to produce her evidence of fraud to the proper election authorities or to law enforcement for evaluation, she will be exposed as a fraud and the liar we all know her to be.
Jon Gabriel, a right-wing columnist at the Arizona Republic, pretty much says the same thing, from the right. Funny how election ‘stealing’ ceases when Kari Lake wins:
In a rational world, Primary Tuesday would put an end to 2020’s “Stop the Steal” nonsense. But few consider politics rational, especially here in Arizona.
As the votes rolled in Tuesday night, Karrin Taylor Robson dominated the GOP gubernatorial primary. With an estimated 40% of the votes counted, she led Kari Lake by more than 10 percentage points.
Two hours later and 60% of votes counted, Robson retained a commanding lead of 49% to 41%.
Then, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when “no one was watching,” everything had flipped. Once 80% of the votes were reported, Lake led Robson by 1.8%. That’s a swing of 12 percentage points in a few hours.
Hmm … curious. (OK, not really, but work with me here.)
Consider if the names were reversed. Arizona would face another two years of conspiracy theories, spittle-flinging speeches and condemnations of state officials over a “stolen election” [from “Krazy Kari” Lake aagainst Karrin Taylor Robson. There would be lawsuits to prevent certificstion of the primary vote later this month.]
Press releases would be issued. Investigations launched. Cyber Ninjas activated.
Instead, Lake won the GOP nomination much like Joe Biden won Arizona in 2020.
The voting gods have a sense of humor.
Instead of calling for counts, recounts and audits, Lake saw enough by late Tuesday night, despite an estimated 20% of ballots were yet to be counted. “We won today 7 out of 10 election day votes,” she told her supporters on Tuesday night. “There is no path to victory for my opponent and we won this race. Period.” [Prematurely claiming a win before the media consortiums of the Associated Press or Election Desk had seen enough votes to call the race.]
Guess elections weren’t as corrupt as they said?
After the 2020 election, pro-Trump protesters screamed “count the vote!”
How times change.
Lake’s more fervent supporters won’t plunge into conspiracy rabbit holes this time, nor should they. “Stop the Steal” activists won’t allege hacked computers, sneaky software or ballots laced with communist Chinese bamboo.
Lake won, so why challenge the result? But by accepting Tuesday’s results, they’re admitting that our election system isn’t corrupt as they claimed all this time.
On Election night 2020, I too was confused by Biden’s rapid turn of fortune. So, I reached out to vote-counting experts, some staunch conservatives, some anything but. They calmly explained the process. I did a bit of reading and emerged more informed on the other side.
It was bad news for Trump supporters, though in politics, thems the breaks. But a half an hour of research isn’t as entertaining as two years of outrage.
Can we finally leave 2020 behind?
Kari Lake didn’t steal Arizona’s vote any more than Joe Biden did. Now, those who pushed the conspiracy theories need to explain why this election was legit and the other wasn’t.
The election process hasn’t changed much. Arizona still has mail-in ballots, voting sites still use felt-tip pens, and election night still features an achingly slow vote count. (Seriously, someone needs to fix that.)
Public officials haven’t changed their perspective since the presidential election. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, was secretary of state then and now. Stephen Richer, a Republican and staunch defender of the 2020 results, presided over Maricopa County’s vote on Tuesday. Either both turned “ultra MAGA” or the election wasn’t stolen, then or now.
The real trick now for Lake and other Trump-endorsed primary winners is a sharp pivot to the general. Fever dreams about The Donald’s loss still sell with a large chunk of Arizona’s GOP base, but it pushes away other Republicans, most independents and all Democrats.
Time for the GOP nominees to leave 2020 behind and focus on what all Arizonans care about: inflation, recession and the miserable performance of Democratic-dominated Washington. That might annoy the tinfoil-capped voters who won them their primaries, but it’s the only way to win the general.
Sorry, Jon, but “Dear Leader” will not allow his MAGA/QAnon cult followers to depart from his Big Lie. Neither will “Q.” It is what defines their “movement” (well, actually, that is anti-democracy White Christian Nationalism, with a big dash of theocracy and authoritarianism thrown in). “Krazy Kari” Lake has built her enitre campaign upon the Big Lie, and she must continue to pursue it. It is what defines her – and the Arizona Republican Party.
Acknowledging Biden's win is a mortal sin in the AZGOP.
Doing so shows moral backbone, which is unacceptable in the raw pursuit of pure power. https://t.co/iauzmbYckk
— Jim Small (@JimSmall) August 5, 2022
And NO, we are not just going to “leave 2020 behind,” nor 2021 for that matter. Trump’s seditious insurrectionist tried to overthrow the U.S. government in a coup d’état on January 6, 2021, and these MAGA/QAnon cult candidates are promising that they stand ready, willing and able to carry out the next coup d’état at the behest of their “Dear Leader” if Arizona voters are reckless and foolish enough to elect these co-conspirators to office.