Governor: Kari Lake, a Trump-endorsed election denier, touts lack of political experience

Kari Lake (Photo courtesy of the Kari Lake campaign)

Candidate name: Kari Lake
Political affiliation: Republican
Position sought: Arizona governor
Age: 53
Career: TV reporter and anchor

Kari Lake has no political experience. The Trump-endorsed former television journalist has never run for elected office or worked in government.

And that’s exactly what she thinks Arizona needs in its next governor.

After nearly three decades as a broadcast journalist and TV news anchor, mostly in Phoenix, Lake resigned last year, saying she no longer felt the news media was ethical.

“We went to a different stratosphere of craziness in the media, and that’s when I believe the media became not just unethical and biased – the media became actually immoral, pushing an agenda of fear and division in this country,” she told far-right cable television network Newsmax.

Lake faces Democrat Katie Hobbs in a tight race to replace Gov. Doug Ducey, who is term-limited.

Lake and Hobbs were essentially tied in a poll conducted in late September by The Arizona Republic and University. Just weeks before ballots were to be mailed out, a single percentage point separated the two, with 1 in 5 independent voters still undecided.

As of early October, Lake’s campaign has raised more than $3.8 million, according to TransparencyUSA. The Hobbs campaign had raised more than $5 million.

The two candidates have not debated each other publicly. Hobbs declined to participate in a debate with Lake put on by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, saying,“you can’t debate a conspiracy theorist.” In turn, Lake called Hobbs “a coward.” Lake will instead appear on Arizona PBS in a solo interview.

Before quitting Fox 10 in 2021 to kick off her gubernatorial campaign, Lake had no experience in politics. During her campaign, she has leaned heavily on her status: “I think the people are ready for some outsiders. Reagan didn’t have that political experience, government experience. President Trump didn’t either,” Lake said at a candidate forum in September sponsored by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Lake’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests to interview her for Cronkite News, but she has made her positions clear in public appearances, on her website and in social media posts.

On immigration

“On day one, in the first hour, after I take my hand off the Bible with the oath of office, we’re going to issue a declaration of invasion,” Lake told a crowd at the September candidate forum. “Call it what it is, and we’re going to get troops on the ground and stop people from coming over,” she said on Fox News.

She also said she wants to complete Trump’s border wall and expand the Arizona Rangers, a volunteer civilian police force that aids law enforcement. She wants the Rangers to become a full-time, paid force that oversees law enforcement in the state’s borderlands.

On the campaign trail, the Trump-endorsed candidate has mimicked the former president’s rhetoric about Mexican immigrants. At a rally in September, she said, “They are bringing drugs; they are bringing crime; and they are rapists – and that’s who’s coming across our border. That’s a fact.”

On voting and elections

Lake has repeatedly peddled lies and conspiracy theories that the results of the 2020 election were illegitimate – even though Arizona’s attorney general, a fellow Republican, found no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities. An audit of some results of the 2020 election ordered by the Arizona Senate also found no fraud, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform concluded.

Lake also has pushed debunked claims from “2,000 Mules,” a movie that claimed to have evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. True the Vote, the group behind the movie, refused multiple requests from the Arizona attorney general’s office to provide evidence of voter fraud.

Ahead of the Arizona gubernatorial primaries, Lake prematurely declared herself the victor and cautioned supporters not to trust the election results if she lost, according to The Washington Post.

“We will not stand for another stolen election,” Lake said at a summer campaign event in Phoenix. She did not provide any credible evidence of fraud, the paper reported.

Lake’s election denialism has raised concerns that, if she becomes governor, she could try to sway the results of the 2024 election.

Earlier this year, Lake joined right-wing secretary of state hopeful Mark Finchem in filing a lawsuit to prevent Arizona from using electronic voting machines. The case was initially tossed out in August, but the duo appealed earlier this month, according to The Associated Press.

In addition to her quest to do away with electronic voting machines, Lake has said she wants to “clean up the voter rolls.”

At a campaign event in Chandler this summer, she said, “I frankly think we should start from square one. Wash them down and start all over. They’re such a mess right now.”

On Arizona water issues

Arizona should be spearheading long-term solutions to the Southwest’s water crisis, according to Lake’s website.

Instead of relying so much on groundwater and rivers, Arizona should pipe its water from the Missouri and Mississippi river basins, she has said.

“What will the cost be? Right now, we don’t know,” her campaign website says. “Whatever the price tag ends up being, it will be far less than the cost of a future without the water we need to survive.”

Lake also has proposed desalinating water, although she has provided few specifics other than pointing to a water desalination plant near San Diego. At a September candidate forum, she suggested desalinating brackish groundwater as an option.

On abortion

Lake has made her position on reproductive health care clear: She opposes abortion.

“Roe v. Wade and the Culture of Abortion is over. A new chapter of Life has begun,” she tweeted after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned the long-standing abortion rights law.

She also has said she would support closing abortion clinics and a ban on abortion pills.

Ties to domestic extremists

Lake has made numerous appearances on far-right shows while on the campaign trail. Recently, she thanked alt-right pundit and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for his coverage of her campaign.

“Could not have done this without you,” Lake said during an appearance on Bannon’s show. “Because these fake news organizations, they don’t want to cover the truth. You do.”

Bannon has been dubbed a “far-right political provocateur” by the Anti-Defamation League and described as a white nationalist, which he denies.

Lake has not voiced explicit support for QAnon, a conspiracy theory and political movement, but she has appeared on QAnon influencer shows while campaigning. She also has surrounded herself with other domestic extremists. For example, she has posed for a video and a selfie with Greyson Arnold, a known-Nazi sympathizer, and took a photo with uniformed Proud Boys.

This year, she also was listed as a special guest for the America First Political Action Conference, a gathering that the Anti-Defamation League deemed a white supremacist event.

After the speaker list came out and Lake received backlash online, she distanced herself: “I am not part of this. I am not taking part. Just because a false photo is posted – you really should TRY to be a real journalist and ask before posting slanderous posts,” she wrote on Twitter.