Kari Lake, who insists she won in 2022, enters the U.S. Senate race with Donald Trump’s endorsement

The Big Lie purveyor is likely to face Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema next November

By: - October 10, 2023 9:17 pm

Kari Lake speaks at an Oct. 10, 2023, event launching her 2024 campaign for the U.S. Senate. Photo by Caitlin Sievers | Arizona Mirror

Kari Lake, who still hasn’t conceded her loss in the 2022 race for Arizona governor, formally launched her campaign for U.S. Senate Tuesday.

“We’ve got one year to save this country,” Lake told a crowd full of cheering supporters in Scottsdale Tuesday evening. “I’m going to stop the push toward communism and be the most pro-America senator in the entire country.” 

Before a digital backdrop of an American flag waving in the wind, Lake took shots at some of her favorite targets, including the media, who she said builds up war mongers and liars while attacking her. She also went after “crooked” President Joe Biden, who she said was a threat to America and the rest of the world, while lambasting her potential opponents next November, Democrat Ruben Gallego and independent Kyrsten Sinema. 

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Lake, a former longtime Phoenix news anchor who got the backing of Donald Trump in last year’s gubernatorial race, is a notorious purveyor of the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. 

And Trump showed up virtually on Tuesday, appearing on the big screen behind Lake to give his official endorsement of her run for U.S. Senate. 

“When I’m in the White House, I’m going to need strong fighters in the Senate,” Trump said. “Kari is one of the toughest fighters in the movement. She is very special.” 

He said Republican voters need to come out in droves in 2024 because “it’s much harder to cheat when we swamp them.” Trump is currently facing criminal charges in Georgia and Washington, D.C., for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election after he spread baseless lies about supposed fraud in the election.

Kari Lake watches a video of former President Donald Trump endorsing her at an Oct. 10, 2023, event launching her 2024 campaign for the U.S. Senate. Photo by Caitlin Sievers | Arizona Mirror

In a similar vein, Lake has spent the last 11 months claiming that the 2022 election in Arizona was pulled from the grasp of herself and other Republican candidates for statewide office. 

Over the past year, Lake has spent her time lambasting and trolling the “liberal media” on X, formerly Twitter, and filing lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2022 election. So far, Lake’s evidence-free claims have failed to convince trial, appeals and state Supreme Court judges that the election was stolen, and her attorneys have been hit with sanctions for making false statements about elections in their court filings. 

Over the past year, Lake has also been a regular guest on far-right talk shows and podcasts, where she made a habit of going after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors — which is controlled by Republicans — and Republican County Recorder Stephen Richer for what she says is their part in overseeing corrupt elections. 

Lake’s election fraud claims led Richer to file a defamation suit against her in June, saying he’s faced “harassment, intimidation, and threats to my and my family’s lives” because of her false statements about his work in Maricopa County elections. 

Lake has also spent ample time over the past six months at Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, as well as traveling the country to campaign on his behalf ahead of the 2024 presidential election. For a time, she was rumored to be a possible pick for his running mate, but he seems to have soured on the idea

Lake joins the race for U.S. Senator from Arizona alongside Gallego, a Democratic congressman from Phoenix. Gallego, who announced his candidacy in January, is a progressive former combat Marine who served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2010 to 2014, when he was elected to the U.S. House. 

Lake and Gallego are both vying for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sinema, who was elected in 2018 as a centrist Democrat, but who is unpopular with progressives and left the party to become an independent late last year. 

While Sinema has not officially announced a run for reelection, a leaked memo from her team indicated that they were formulating a strategy to garner support from a mix of Republicans, Democrats and independent voters. 

During the rally, Lake worked to lump Gallego and Sinema in with Biden, saying a vote for them equals a vote for the Biden agenda, which she claims will mean a continually bad economy and an open border. 

“Joe Biden, Kyrsten Sinema and Ruben Gallego care more about the Ukraine border than ours,” Lake said. 

She added that she thinks Sinema and Gallego aren’t beholden to the people of Arizona, but to Big Pharma and the military industrial complex.

A poll by National Research Inc., conducted Oct. 7-9, puts Lake in the lead of a hypothetical three-way race, pitting her against Gallego and Sinema. 

In that race, the poll put Lake ahead of the other candidates with 37% of voter support, compared to 33% for Gallego and 19% for Sinema, with 10% of respondents undecided. 

In another poll conducted by the same firm that envisioned a race without Sinema, Gallego and Lake were neck-in-neck, both with 44% of voter support in a two-way race, with 12% undecided. 

Another poll conducted by Public Policy Polling that was commissioned by Gallego’s campaign showed him leading Lake with 48% to her 43%. 

The only other high-profile Republican who has announced his candidacy for the seat is right-wing Pinal County sheriff and Trump supporter Mark Lamb. 

During the rally, Lake made wide ranging promises that she would protect Social Security for those nearing retirement, would secure the border by finishing the wall and that she would ban urban camping to help stem the homeless epidemic. She did not elaborate on where those living on the streets would go after that. 

Lake said she was pro-woman and pro-life, claiming that those who support reproductive rights only want women to get abortions, without any other options. 

“They’re for one choice and don’t give women other choices,” she said. 

It’s unclear if Lake will garner broad Republican support, after her failed bid for governor left some questioning her electability. 

“It was both a collapse and, now in hindsight, it was a failed campaign from the beginning,” a high-ranking Arizona Republican told the Washington Post after Lake’s defeat in the gubernatorial race. “I don’t really know what to say beyond outrageous arrogance and never getting out of primary mode. This election wasn’t stolen. It was given away.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Senator Gary Peters called Lake’s campaign announcement “Senate Republicans’ worst nightmare.”

“She has dangerous views and harmful policies: an abortion ban without exceptions, ending Medicare and Social Security, and fringe conspiracies that are far out of step with normal Arizonans,” Peters said in a statement. “Even Republicans didn’t want Lake to run because voters rejected her before, and they’ll do so again in 2024.”

In a planned series of videos called “The Lake Tapes,” the first of which was released Tuesday, the Arizona Democratic Party used Lake’s own words against her, with Lake calling the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. capitol insurrection a “staged riot” and saying that she and her followers “drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine.” 

Some blamed Lake’s loss, at least partially, on her dismissal of former supporters of the late Sen. John McCain, a centrist Republican, Vietnam war veteran and political maverick who won the respect of politicians from both major parties during his decades representing Arizona in the U.S. Senate. 

Echoing comments from others in her party, Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Yolanda Bejarano also described Lake’s views on abortion and her push of conspiracy theories as dangerous. 

“Lake’s Senate candidacy is Republicans’ worst nightmare– voters of every political persuasion have rejected her before and will do so again,” Bejarano said in a statement. 

Lake supporter, campaign volunteer and self-described “Mama Bear” Patti Julagay, who attended Tuesday’s rally, told the Arizona Mirror that she is a Lake fan because she lives near the border in Marana and wants to see it closed, to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs like fentanyl from coming through. (Marana is roughly 90 miles from the border.)

Eric and Sandy Ranweiler of Fountain Hills, who also attended Tuesday’s rally told the Mirror that they support Lake’s America-first attitude and believe that Biden is making a mess of the country. 

Sandy Ranweiler said she was unhappy with how the election went in Maricopa County last November, and believes that votes were stolen. Both Ranweilers believe that Lake will make improvements in border security and help improve the economy.

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Caitlin Sievers
Caitlin Sievers

Caitlin joined the Arizona Mirror in 2022 with almost 10 years of experience as a reporter and editor, holding local government leaders accountable from newsrooms across the West and Midwest. She's won statewide awards in Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin for reporting, photography and commentary.

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