ICYMI: Despite attempts to be less ‘divisive,’ Kari Lake finds it hard to shed her MAGA instincts [NBC]

“A number of Arizona Republicans believe that Lake faces an uphill climb in her Senate bid.”

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

ARIZONA -–  After Kari Lake asked the “U.S. Supreme Court to endorse a conspiracy theory,” attempted to evade discovery in the defamation case against her, and continues to push extremism in her quest to gain power and stay in the “limelight,”Arizona Republicans believe that Lake faces an uphill climb in her Senate bid.”

Arizona Republicans are expressing frustration as Lake has “rejected the premise that she needed to change,” suggesting “she says one thing one day and then acts completely counter to that the next” while she“quadruple[s] down on ultra MAGA.” 

Read more:

NBC: Despite attempts to be less ‘divisive,’ Kari Lake finds it hard to shed her MAGA instincts

March 28th, 2024

By: Vaughn Hillyard and Alex Tabet

Key Points: 

  • This winter, Kari Lake was facing a daunting reality: The voters who rejected her in her 2022 run for governor could now jeopardize her entire political future. If Lake — “Trump in heels,” as she has referred to herself — didn’t begin to quickly change the minds of those she had shunned or ridiculed, she could lose, again, in her 2024 Senate bid…
  • But with just over seven months until the election, several key Arizona Republicans tell NBC News that they believe Lake’s campaign is facing an increasingly uphill battle… 
  • Lake continues to deny that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, tweeting this month about President Joe Biden: “81 million votes, my a–.” She continues to call her 2022 election loss “a sham,” promotes right-wing provocateurs like Laura Loomer — whom she called a “warrior” — and hosts fundraising events with controversial political figures like Roger Stone at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club.
  • Since launching her Senate bid, Lake has set up meetings to mend relationships with other Republicans she cast aside during her run for governor, like Kathy Petsas, a former local party chair in Lake’s home legislative district. Lake’s campaign tweeted at her in 2022: “Kathy, You’re exactly the type of demographic that we feel no need to appeal to.”
  • “I don’t know one person that she’s gotten on her side of the people who she offended,” Petsas said, suggesting Lake’s overtures have fallen flat. “There’s nobody from my circle that she’s gained, and she’s even alienated some previous supporters, too, who I know.”
  • Petsas met with Lake last winter for iced tea at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, where, she said, Lake talked to her about the need to “unify the party.” She said she named a number of Republicans who deserve apologies from Lake.
  • “She couldn’t even say their names,” Petsas said. “She did not apologize at all. She cannot say, ‘I’m sorry.’”…
  • Lake’s actions, however, have often not mirrored the pitch that her campaign team has often made to those reticent to lending their support.  
  • “What’s odd is that she says one thing one day and then acts completely counter to that the next,” a Republican strategist with ties to Arizona said. “You open up Twitter, and there’s the Nimarata tweet.” 
  • On March 6, the day that Nikki Haley exited the 2024 GOP presidential race, Lake used Haley’s birth name, Nimarata — and misspelled it — in a post on X to knock her: “Nimrata Haley will suspend her campaign today after more humiliating, landslide loses on Super Tuesday.”
  • The strategist continued: “Her instincts seem to be to quadruple down on ultra MAGA and all that entails.”
  • This week, Lake also chose to not contest her liability in a defamation suit filed against her by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a move that most likely allows her to avoid turning over evidence that Richer sought in order to prove that she had made claims against him with actual malice. Lake had repeatedly accused Richer of having “sabotaged” Election Day voting and costing her the governorship in 2022. 
  • Richer, a fellow Republican, posted on X in response: “You will now have a judgment entered, in court, against you, for lying about our elections and me.  It was all B.S. Now on to damages.”
  • Beyond the ever-fraying personal relationships, Lake is also facing a cash imbalance…
  • Lake has also not revealed how much she has raised through the Save Arizona Fund, a 501(c)4 organization that she launched with her key political aides in the aftermath of her gubernatorial defeat, or how she has used or intends to use the funds.
  • NBC News has requested the Save Arizona Fund’s 990 tax filing, a financial disclosure form that the IRS requires nonprofit organizations to file annually; neither Lake’s senior adviser nor her lawyer have responded to the request.
  • The money cannot be spent directly on her Senate bid. A person close to Lake said “a lot of the money” was spent on her lawsuits around the 2022 campaign…
  • Lake also rejected the premise that she needed to change.
  • “I haven’t changed,” she argued after casting her ballot for Trump in Arizona’s GOP presidential primary last week. “I’m still the same person that people invited into their homes for nearly 30 years here in Arizona.”… 
  • In turn, Lake has worked hard to not lose her close relationship with Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, paying his senior advisor Jason Miller to also consult for her campaign and even traveling to Trump’s election night victory parties in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as multiple events at his Palm Beach estate.
  • “I got MAGA in my bone marrow,” Lake boasted at a rally in Cave Creek, Arizona, this month before telling the crowd that she had just filed a case with the U.S. Supreme Court “to get rid of those damn machines that are so corrupt.”
  • Lake’s petition claims electronic voting machines used in Maricopa County are “susceptible to hacking.” It’s the same argument that has repeatedly failed to pass muster in several courts and led to a $787.5 million settlement between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems last spring… 
  • But Verdone, the longtime fundraiser, surmised that Lake’s window for changing the trajectory of the race is narrowing. 
  • “She needs to reach out and show that she’s willing to — the only term I can think of is — normalize,” she said. “But I think it’s almost too late… 

Read more:  New York Times: Kari Lake, a Trump Acolyte, Struggles to Find Her Path, Politico: Kari Lake wants the Supreme Court to revive her case looking to block voting machines, The Guardian: Kari Lake won’t contest claims she defamed Arizona election official, Arizona Republic Opinion: Kari Lake 2.0 wants a new 2022 election? So much for moving on, Axios: U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake pivots back to stolen election rhetoric, MSNBC: Kari Lake faceplants in the mad dash to whitewash her extremism, Arizona Mirror: Kari Lake gives up and won’t defend herself in Stephen Richer’s defamation lawsuit. Washington Post: Kari Lake won’t defend her statements about Arizona election official. 

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