Kari Lake, Still Refusing to Accept Defeat in One Race, Teases Arizona Senate Run
WASHINGTON — Kari Lake, the fiery former news anchor who narrowly lost a race for governor of Arizona last year, said in an interview that she is considering a Republican campaign for the U.S. Senate in Arizona next year.
She has also scheduled campaign-style events this month in Iowa — home to her party’s first presidential nominating contest — that typically signal White House ambitions.
Additionally, she is still contesting her November defeat in the Arizona governor’s race, despite her claims of misconduct being rejected in court. She has continued raising money to help finance legal bills related to her court challenges, and has also given several paid speeches, but declined to say for whom.
Ms. Lake’s maneuvering in recent months has signaled that she’s eager to build out her fledgling political résumé following a midlife career shift.
After spending decades as a local television reporter and anchor, Ms. Lake burst onto the political scene last year after winning a brutal primary election with a potent mix of election lies and cultural grievances. Her skills as a polished and ruthless communicator helped her come within 17,000 votes of winning Arizona’s most politically powerful office as a first-time candidate — and earned her the praise of former President Donald J. Trump, whose style she has often imitated.
“Here’s your headline: Kari Lake is on the warpath,” Ms. Lake said in an interview Thursday night.
But it was unclear exactly where that path would lead.
Seated in the corner booth of a Washington hotel bar, Ms. Lake drank a pint of Guinness and previewed opening salvos in a potential Senate race, attacking both Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in December to become an independent, and Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat who is running for Ms. Sinema’s seat, as “radical leftists.”
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Ms. Lake attempted to cast doubt on Ms. Sinema’s reputation as a moderate, pointing to data that showed the Arizona incumbent often votes with President Biden. An NBC poll last year showed that American voters were split over whether Mr. Biden was moderate or liberal.
“She’s the furthest thing from an independent,” Ms. Lake said. “Someone somewhere said she did a couple of courageous things, well, she should do courageous stuff here every day. If you are blessed to be elected by the people, when you show up in Washington, D.C., you should be doing courageous acts every damn day.”
A spokeswoman for Ms. Sinema declined to comment.
Ms. Lake also attacked Mr. Gallego, a progressive Democrat from Phoenix, as a socialist and highlighted complaints by a former staff member, Ne’Lexia Galloway, who criticized him after leaving her job last year for not doing more to “speak up about the injustices” to people of color in his district. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gallego declined to comment.
Ms. Lake practiced similar attack lines against Mr. Gallego, who would be the state’s first Latino elected to the Senate, during a rally last week in Arizona and on Twitter.
Mayor Corey Woods of Tempe, who is Black, defended Mr. Gallego, saying Ms. Lake’s claims were misleading.
“I’ve personally known Ruben Gallego for 15 plus years and I know he always stands up for what’s right,” Mr. Woods, who endorsed Mr. Gallego on Wednesday, posted on Twitter last week.
Mr. Gallego also appeared to be gathering support from the Black community. Roy Tatem Jr., the former leader of the East Valley NAACP in Phoenix, spoke at a Gallego campaign event last week. Pastor Aubrey Barnwell, head of the African American Christian Clergy Coalition, delivered the invocation at the same event.
A handful of other high-profile Arizonans have told Republican officials that they are considering Senate campaigns, including Mark Lamb, the sheriff of Pinal County; Jim Lamon, a wealthy businessman who ran for Senate in 2022; Blake Masters, the party’s Senate nominee who lost to incumbent Senator Mark Kelly last year; and Karrin Taylor Robson, a businesswoman who lost to Ms. Lake in the governor’s primary.
Ms. Lake expressed confidence that she would easily beat any field of Republican opponents and declared that her popularity among conservative voters in the state was rivaled only by that of Mr. Trump.
She disputed the notion that she was a divisive figure inside her party, saying she reached out to rivals after her primary victory last year but that many didn’t return her calls.
She also played down the ill will she stirred with her attacks on John McCain, the longtime Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee who died in 2018.
In August, she claimed during one speech that her candidacy “drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine,” while making a stabbing motion with her arm. In the final days of the race, she asked if there were any McCain Republicans in the audience and ordered them to “get the hell out.”
Ms. Lake said in the interview that some Republicans had taken the barbs more personally than the former senator would have.
“I think McCain would have laughed,” Ms. Lake said. “I truly do.”
Ms. Lake said her top priority remained challenging the results of the race for governor, despite court rulings against her and the swearing-in of her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, on Jan. 2.
Ms. Lake’s claims that officials in Maricopa County, Ariz., had deliberately caused ballot printers to malfunction in order to purposefully sway the election were rejected in December following a two-day trial in Phoenix.
Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ordered Ms. Lake to pay $33,000 in fees to cover the cost of expert witnesses hired by Ms. Hobbs.