Aug 3, 2022 - Politics

Arizona's GOP gubernatorial primary too close to call on election night

Side-by-side photos of Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson raising their fists in the air

Kari Lake, left, and Karrin Taylor Robson speak to supporters last night. Photos: Ross D. Franklin, Matt York/AP

The Republican primary for governor is still too close to call this morning with Kari Lake leading Karrin Taylor Robson by fewer than 2 percentage points.

Driving the news: Robson opened the night with a strong advantage, leading Lake by 9 percentage points after the first results were announced shortly after 8pm.

  • Lake gained ground in subsequent updates and took the lead after midnight.

The big picture: Most of the remaining ballots to be counted are largely early ballots that were dropped off Tuesday, which political observers expect to favor Lake.

  • Maricopa County will post updated election results by 7pm.

What Robson's saying: She took the stage just after 10pm to celebrate that she's "way ahead," but she told supporters to be patient and let elections workers count every legitimate vote.

  • She said Lake will likely try to claim election fraud — as Lake already has done without providing evidence — but she said "talk is cheap" and the campaign's legal team is watching all vote counting closely.
  • "Keep calm. Keep the faith. And keep us in your prayers. Because at the end of the day, we're gonna win this thing."

What Lake's saying: Lake addressed supporters in a ballroom at the DoubleTree Resort in Scottsdale around 10:20pm to raucous chants of "Kari! Kari!" She assured them that she would prevail. "When they count the votes, we are going to win this, and there is no path to victory for our opponent," she said.

  • Lake blamed a "messed up" election system for what she said was a slow count of election day votes. She insisted that she'd won 70% of the votes. She also noted that some polling places in Pinal County ran out of ballots.
  • "This is how they do it. They want to try to take the air out of this movement. They don't want us celebrating. And we have every right to celebrate tonight because when these votes are tallied, we will come out the victor."

The intrigue: The tight race was a surprise to many, as nearly every publicly released poll leading up to Tuesday had shown Trump-endorsed Lake leading by a wide margin.

Yes, but: Robson may have found the key to overcoming a Trump endorsement: $20 million, most of which came from her own pocket.

  • This allowed her to wage an unrelenting attack ad campaign against Lake, hitting her for contributing to Barack Obama in 2008, questioning her conservative credentials and dubbing her "Fake Lake."

Why it matters: The battle between Lake and Robson became a proxy war between Trump and the more establishment wing of the GOP.

  • Trump endorsed Lake last September, while Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence threw their support behind Robson in July.

What's next: The winner will face Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who easily beat Marco Lopez.

  • Many Democrats view Lake as the easier opponent for Hobbs.

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