Aug 3, 2022 - Politics

Lake declares victory in Arizona GOP primary, says outstanding ballots will favor her

Kari Lake speaks to the media during a press conference in front of her campaign headquarters
Kari Lake speaks to reporters Wednesday outside her campaign headquarters. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

With about 186,000 votes left to count, Kari Lake declared victory Wednesday in the Republican primary for governor, while rival Karrin Taylor Robson stayed mum throughout the day.

Driving the news: Lake leads Robson by fewer than 2 percentage points, but the remaining ballots, which are largely early ballots that were dropped off at polling places on election day, are expected to expand her lead.

Of note: The Associated Press hasn't yet called the race.

  • Maricopa County election officials updated their results Wednesday night.

The intrigue: Despite a bruising campaign in which she and Robson constantly attacked each other, Lake urged her rival to join ranks with her.

  • She said she would unite the GOP, including supporters of Republicans she's harshly criticized, such as Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence.

What she's saying: "They assure me that our lead is only going to grow and grow," Lake said at a press conference outside her campaign headquarters in Phoenix.

  • Lake also said she held her victory press conference a day early because she wanted to take the night off to celebrate her wedding anniversary with her husband.

Yes, but: Despite surging into the lead after initially trailing on Tuesday night, Lake repeated her baseless claims that there had been fraud in the primary election.

  • "We outvoted the fraud," she said.
  • Lake and her campaign attorney refused to provide evidence of fraud or cheating, instead pointing to other election problems, particularly issues with polling places in Pinal County that ran out of ballots for in-person voters on Tuesday.

Looking ahead: Lake has been a vociferous proponent of the false allegations that the 2020 election was rigged against President Donald Trump. When she was asked whether she would continue raising the issue in the general election, she said, "I'm not going to change who I am. I'm not going to change. Because I won doesn't mean I'm going to now pivot and try to be a Democrat."

  • Asked if she still stood by her previous comments that Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for governor, should be imprisoned for her role in the 2020 election, Lake insisted that Hobbs had committed unspecified crimes.
  • Hobbs' campaign adviser, Joe Wolf, called Lake's allegations baseless and blatantly false, telling Axios Phoenix, "It's as laughable as it is pathetic."

Lake gave some indication as to the types of changes to election laws she'll support if she becomes governor, suggesting that she wants Arizona's early voting system curtailed in some way.

  • She criticized the length of the 27-day early voting period, saying voters should know the results of elections on election nights.
  • Lake wouldn't respond to a question about whether she wants to completely eliminate voting by mail.
  • The overwhelming majority of Arizonans vote by early ballot.

Meanwhile: Robson's campaign declined to comment on Lake's victory declaration.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the number of outstanding ballots.

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