NEW: Republicans “warning that Lake’s divisive persona and instinct for provocation could sabotage them yet again.” [Politico]

Friday, May 10th, 2024

ARIZONA -–  A new report from Politico reveals that Republicans are expressing fresh concern that “Lake’s divisive persona and instinct for provocation could sabotage them yet again.”

This follows previous reporting from the Arizona Republic, The New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News and National Review, that have all revealed that Republicans are raising the alarm about Lake’s candidacy.

Read the new report: 

Politico: Kari Lake keeps giving Republicans new reasons to worry 

May 10th, 2024

By: Ally Mutnick and Burgess Everett

Key Points:

  • National Republicans embraced Kari Lake’s Arizona Senate bid, reasoning she was likely to win the primary with or without their support.
  • Now they are confronting the consequences of having a MAGA lightning rod as their nominee in one of the most competitive states in the country… 
  • Lake has not managed a clean pivot from her hard-right roots. In the past month alone, she publicly waffled on her opposition to Arizona’s near-total abortion ban and returned to the flamethrowing rhetoric of her last run when she urged voters to “strap on a Glock” to prepare for 2024.
  • That’s all given the GOP some pause…. in Arizona, they are increasingly warning that Lake’s divisive persona and instinct for provocation could sabotage them yet again.
  • “When you don’t really have a core belief in anything, and you’re willing to take whatever position you think is politically expedient at the moment, you end up getting caught between a rock and a hard place before too long,” said former Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), who ran against Lake in 2022…
  • Now, as Democrats have placed tens of millions of dollars in fall TV reservations, national Republicans haven’t begun to seriously invest in the state. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell left Arizona off his list of places where the party is certain to play, and the top Senate GOP super PAC has begun placing ad buys in other states — but not in Arizona…
  • National money will be sorely needed as Lake is staring down an already massive financial disadvantage in her battle against Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.)… 
  • Yet as Lake has attempted to moderate her image and grow her support outside the party’s MAGA base, she is reversing her own positions and stirring up feuds.
  • Lake tried to court Salmon as part of her attempt to unify the party. But she also secretly recorded and released a conversation of the then-chair of the state party appearing to ask her what it would take for her to stay out of the Senate race, leading to his resignation and infuriating the old guard of the Arizona GOP.
  • Salmon declined to meet with Lake and thinks the Senate race might already be a losing cause…
  • Gallego started April with nearly four times more cash than Lake and is a formidable fundraiser. While Lake isn’t on TV currently, Gallego began airing positive spots several weeks ago. 
  • Meanwhile, Lake is raising eyebrows with frequent out-of-state visits to Mar-a-Lago and jaunts to campaign for other candidates.
  • …Gallego has spent $7.9 million on ads and had $9.6 million on hand at the end of March; Lake has spent just $170,000 and has $2.5 million…
  • Lake isn’t making it any easier on herself.
  • When the state’s highest court enacted a near-total ban on abortion, Lake made a public pivot on abortion rights and lobbied state lawmakers to repeal the 1864 ban. Then, on the cusp of that repeal — and under fire from anti-abortion activists — she told local media on a stop in Idaho that it was disappointing that her state refused to enforce the law.
  • She’s also continued to talk about the 2020 presidential election and the 2022 governor election she falsely claims to have won, though countless Republicans urge her to stop. Lake’s attorneys were back in court this month asking judges to set aside the results of her governor’s race, and she’s being sued for defamation by the Maricopa County Recorder.
  • And the same fire-and-brimstone rhetoric that Lake tried to swear off when she launched her run in October continues to crop up. At a rally last month, Lake urged supporters to “strap on a Glock” in preparation for the final months of the election.
  • Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) slammed her on “Meet the Press” last weekend, warning that “what Kari Lake said could result in people getting hurt or killed.”
  • A leading advocate against gun violence after his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, was shot in the head in 2011, Kelly told POLITICO he’s had Republicans approach him to talk about Lake.
  • “You have somebody on the issue of abortion that is all over the map and has tied herself up into a pretzel over it,” Kelly said. “Arizona does not like divisive, angry people that are going to try to strip them of rights.”…
  • If national GOP money is freed up, it could go toward boosting Lake, Tillis said, but at the moment he estimated three or four Senate races “would be ahead of Arizona” in GOP priorities…
  • The problem for Republicans: Arizona voters already have an established idea of who Lake is… And Gallego’s the only one defining himself on the airwaves right now.
  • Gallego went on TV in March and remains on air. His spots tout his time in Iraq and working-class upbringing.
  • “It’s a great story and that’s now how most people are going to know him.” […]  said Chuck Coughlin, a longtime consultant for Arizona Republicans. “He’s actually executing perfectly on the campaign that he’s got to run.”

Read more: Washington Post: Tensions grow between Trump and Lake in Arizona race for Senate; Arizona Republic Opinion: Kari Lake’s old-guard Republican apology tour ain’t working; National Review: Kari Lake’s Out-of-State Travel Adds Up; New York Times: Kari Lake, a Trump Acolyte, Struggles to Find Her Path; NBC: Despite attempts to be less ‘divisive,’ Kari Lake finds it hard to shed her MAGA instincts; Arizona Republic Opinion: Kari Lake’s Chances of Winning Arizona Seem Dimmer By the Day; 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 Republic: Kari Lake’s back on the air, this time talking far-right topics on online show, Arizona Republic: Kari Lake’s charm offensive is more offensive than charming for moderate Republicans, Washington Post: Kari Lake struggles to court moderates, imperiling GOP Senate pickup, POLITICO: When QAnon fundraises for Kari Lake … she shows up, Arizona Republic: Kari Lake defends Jan. 6 Capitol rioters on the Senate campaign trail 

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