Aug 16, 2022 - Politics

Anti-Trump Republican Accountability PAC targets Kari Lake

Kari Lake holds her hands out in front of her while speaking to the media at a press conference
Kari Lake speaks outside her Phoenix campaign headquarters on Aug. 3. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

An anti-Trump Republican group is targeting GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake with a $2 million TV and digital ad campaign.

What's happening: The Republican Accountability PAC will begin running digital ads against Lake on Tuesday and will launch its TV campaign on Monday.

  • The focus will be to attack Lake for promoting the false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.
  • The group bought a little over $100,000 worth of airtime for next week and will buy more up through the general election.

State of play: Gunner Ramer, the PAC's political director, tells Axios Phoenix that his organization is primarily targeting college-educated, suburban moderates.

  • President Biden is widely believed to have won Arizona by attracting those voters who abandoned Trump while largely voting Republican in other races further down the ballot.
  • The group could increase its spending against Lake beyond the initial $2 million.

What they're saying: "It is about putting Donald Trump on the ballot in a way when you have a candidate like Kari Lake who repeats Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election constantly," Ramer tells Axios Phoenix.

  • He says Arizona is a top priority for the PAC because of Lake, whom he said is chief among "the terrible anti-democracy slate of candidates" who won in the Republican primary this year.
  • Having Lake in a position where she would be responsible for certifying the 2024 presidential election results in Arizona "​​could lead to something catastrophic for our democracy," he says.

Yes, but: The Republican Accountability PAC actually gets a lot of its funding from people who contribute heavily to Democrats.

The other side: "This is an irrelevant group of perpetual losers, and their media buys this cycle have been laughably small," Lake campaign spokesperson Ross Trumble tells Axios Phoenix.

  • Trumble says Republicans are spending heavily to help Lake, and he expressed confidence the campaign's allies will "vastly outspend the Democrats."

The big picture: The Arizona governor's race is attracting millions in outside spending.

  • The Republican Governors Association has already pre-booked $10.6 million in airtime for the general election and began running ads against Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs immediately after the primary election.
  • The Democratic Governors Association recently gave the Arizona Democratic Party $1.5 million. The party pre-booked $3.8 million in airtime for the last month before the general election.

Zoom out: The PAC is also running ads against Republican candidates in other states, including Senate hopeful Herschel Walker in Georgia and Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano.

Of note: The group's nonprofit wing, the Republican Accountability Project, is also running commercials in Arizona as part of a multi-state campaign to raise awareness of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and "amplify" the findings of the Jan. 6 congressional committee.

  • The ads feature testimonials from former Republicans, including a Cave Creek man named Tom who proclaims, "Somehow, there needs to be accountability for the people who masterminded that horrible event."
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