Kari Lake struggles to court moderates, imperiling GOP Senate pickup

Unidentified woman at political rally

Lake’s outreach has been met with skepticism after her 2022 gubernatorial campaign resulted in deep-seated resentments

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Liz Goodwin and Isaac Arnsdorf

The Washington Post

 When she ran for governor of Arizona last year, Kari Lake unapologetically pilloried her Republican opponents with attacks that targeted not just their conservative credentials, but their personal morals and even their families.

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But now on a mission to flip a Senate seat from Arizona back to red after three cycles of GOP losses, Lake is courting some of those very same Republicans she recently denounced as “RINOs,” or Republicans in name only, hoping they will set aside hurt feelings and deep-seated resentments from her last scorched-earth campaign and unite around her candidacy.

The outreach, made over the course of several weeks through in-person meetings and phone calls, is a welcome sign to Washington Republicans, who would like to see Lake broaden her MAGA base in the once reliably red state and help them retake the U.S. Senate in 2024. But Lake’s effort to reassure political rivals and onetime supporters in this desert state has been met with skepticism, according to interviews with half a dozen Republicans familiar with her conversations who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail the private talks.

Most cite her refusal to acknowledge her electoral loss — even up to today — as well as the relentless demonization of members of her own party, including former Arizona governor Doug Ducey and the late U.S. senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Lake has contacted her former primary rival, top GOP donors and past supporters, party officials and activists, and even a former senator as she tries to persuade them to coalesce around her. But Lake’s appeals for support have so far contained no actual apologies — and some Republicans say they are not likely to forgive her any time soon, complicating her path to victory in a state home to many moderate Republicans and independents whose support is key to winning. And as she continues to pursue a so-far unsuccessful legal battle to overturn her 2022 loss to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), national Republicans fear she may continue pursing the same type of conspiracies and election denialism that harmed her previous campaign. They have urged her to stay focused on local issues like border security and inflation.

In a brief interview with The Washington Post, Lake dismissed her outreach as routine and said she often meets with Republicans.


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December 2023