NEW: Tensions Grow Between Trump and Lake in Arizona Race for Senate [Washington Post] 

“GOP senators worry that Lake is not a strong candidate in Arizona” 

Monday, April 29th, 2024

ARIZONA -–  New reporting from the Washington Post highlights concerns from Donald Trump and GOP Senators “that GOP candidate Kari Lake might not win” and that “Lake is not a strong candidate in Arizona.”

Republicans – at every level of leadership – are sounding the alarm on Lake’s “limelight”-chasing campaign as she continues “spending too much time out of Arizona stumping for other people,” and “GOP senators worry that Lake is not a strong candidate in Arizona … because she has alienated so many center-right and moderate Republicans, and because she continues to espouse the false claims that both the 2020 and 2022 elections were stolen.

This is not the first time Republicans have expressed concerns about Kari Lake’s nightmare campaign: 

Read more about why “GOP senators worry that Lake is not a strong candidate in Arizona:”

Washington Post: Tensions grow between Trump and Lake in Arizona race for Senate

April 29, 2024

By: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Josh Dawsey and Liz Goodwin

Key Points:

  • But since Lake jumped into the race, Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about her political prospects in a state he sees as key to his bid to return to the White House, and has shown annoyance with her frequent presence at his Florida resort, according to five people close to him, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe his comments.
  • At one point last year, after grumbling for months that she was at his Mar-a-Lago Club too often, Trump gently suggested to Lake that she should leave the club and hit the campaign trail in Arizona, according to a person with direct knowledge of his comments. Trump has also asked others if she can really win in Arizona and if she might drag down his own poll numbers as he seeks the presidency again in 2024, advisers said…
  • But Trump’s frustration with Lake has only increased over the past year, heightening the tension between the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and one of his most prominent followers — casting doubt on whether Republicans can present a sufficiently united front to win a key U.S. Senate contest and a presidential battleground state.
  • Trump’s top advisers were furious after a Lake ally released a recording of then-Arizona GOP Chairman Jeff DeWit encouraging her to stay out of the Senate race, which embarrassed the party chairman and led him to resign.
  • Trump was more surprised than angry when told about the January incident, according to three people familiar with his reaction.She tapes everything?” he asked, sitting in a New Hampshire hotel suite before taking the stage on the night he won that state’s primary. “That’s good to know.”
  • The former television news anchor alienated some moderate Republicans in the state during her failed run for the governorship, when she spurned followers of the late GOP senator John McCain and later unsuccessfully sought to have her loss overturned in the courts…
  • In January, Arizona Republicans were privately registering alarm to Trump about Lake’s candidacy. During one conversation, the former president asked for an assessment of his standing in the state, according to one person familiar with the conversation. The Republican told him that he was in good shape but that Lake was in trouble, largely because of her attacks on McCain Republicans, whom she urged to “get the hell out” of the GOP during her first run for office. (She has since said that this comment was made in jest.)
  • But privately, some GOP senators worry that Lake is not a strong candidate in Arizona against her expected rival, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), because she has alienated so many center-right and moderate Republicans, and because she continues to espouse the false claims that both the 2020 and 2022 elections were stolen, according to a person involved in multiple Senate races. When Lake has met with advisers to Senate leadership, she has argued that she is a team player — and said that’s why she is traveling the country to fundraise and help others, one person familiar with the conversations said…
  • “They keep saying she’s a team player and doing all this travel,” the person said. “Our position is, if you want to help the team, go home and win the seat.”
  • Since she announced her Senate campaign in October, Lake has made more than a dozen out-of-state trips, according to her social media posts and news reports. They include a Trump rally in Hialeah, Fla., in November, campaigning in Iowa in January and campaigning for GOP Senate candidate Bernie Moreno in Ohio in March. In April, she campaigned for former Trump official Brian Jack in Georgia and attended a fundraiser for herself in Huntsville, Ala….
  • There’s definitely concern that she’s spending too much time out of Arizona stumping for other people and not spending time in state,” said one Republican strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the race candidly…
  • Many Republicans also say Lake must quickly broaden her approach to connect with voters of all persuasions who are not deeply engaged in the political process but care about the direction of the state and country.
  • “She needs to get away from this idea that the Trump wing of the party is going to be enough to get her across the finish line in a general election,” said GOP consultant Chad Willems, who has managed successful statewide and local campaigns in the state for 25 years. “Especially when it comes to general elections here, you have to start talking about things that the broader electorate cares about, and Kari didn’t do that two years ago”…
  • Lake’s appearance for Moreno in Ohio raised eyebrows in Washington, given that he is arguably in a better position in his race than she is in hers. Republican super PACs have already reserved tens of millions of dollars in airtime in Ohio to boost Moreno, but those reservations have not yet materialized to help Lake in purple Arizona, a lower-priority target where Republican candidates have not fared well in the past few cycles.
  • Lake has also been wrapped up in internal GOP mistrust about her in her home state.
  • After Lake launched her Senate campaign, she tried to mend fences with the same Republicans she denounced as “RINOs,” or Republicans in name only, during her unsuccessful 2022 campaign to be governor, in the hopes of unifying them behind her bid. She did not apologize for her comments, nor did she back away from baseless claims that the election was stolen from her, they said, leaving many of them underwhelmed — and unconvinced that she could win a general election.
  • By then, DeWit, the former state party chair, had told various Republicans that many voters would not take Lake seriously as a Senate candidate, saying she did not grasp complicated domestic and foreign issues, according to people aware of his comments who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them.
  • Soon after, as Arizona Republicans prepared to gather for an annual meeting, a Lake ally released audio of what DeWit has described as edited pieces of his conversation with Lake. The move unleashed backlash against Lake from some of her own supporters, many of whom viewed DeWit as a loyal Trump ally who had dedicated the past decade to helping the former president.
  • The episode killed any desire by some elected Republicans in the state to communicate with her, fearing they could be secretly recorded.
  • “Whether they end up voting for Kari Lake or not, they don’t trust her,” one powerful Republican who holds office said. “They think they’re being recorded and it’s a running joke.”

Read more: 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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