Kari Lake makes Trump better than Trump.
That was a mood heading into the midterm elections. From this, Ms. Lake again sounds more like former President Donald Trump than any other losing candidate he endorsed this year.
Democrat Katie Hobbs is forecast to be the winner of Arizona’s gubernatorial race but Ms Lake is refusing to back down, pinning her hopes on a recount and has said she is “still in the fight”.
The answer sets her apart from the vast majority of her Republican compatriots, who questioned or outright opposed President Biden’s victory in 2020 but accepted her losses in the 2022 midterm election.
This white flag waiver group included Trump-backed Senate candidates Blake Masters in Arizona, Adam Laxalt in Nevada, Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Don Bolduc in New Hampshire.
Ms Lake has been running in the opposite direction since Ms Hobbs was declared the winner, claiming an error in counting votes on Election Day messed up the final count and chastised election officials.
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“They had to do everything they could to stop us,” Ms. Lake said during a headline-grabbing visit to Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after the election, where she vowed to keep fighting. “You can’t stop the Founding Fathers and the blood we carry within us.”
“It’s a joke, our elections are a circus run by clowns,” she said.
The comments came days after Ms Lake said she had collected “evidence and data” of election misconduct and assembled “the best and brightest legal team” to explore “every avenue to correct the many errors committed”.
The Lake loss is perhaps the best example of how the midterms proved a grueling election for Republican newcomers running in swing states and troubled congressional districts seizing on former President Donald Trump’s stolen electoral pretensions.
An analysis by The New York Times found that the majority of political newcomers who had bet on the rigged electoral claims were lost on November 8.
Still, over 220 Republicans who expressed doubts about the election won re-election, many of them incumbents running from GOP strongholds.
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The disappointing election results for the GOP – retaking the House by a narrow margin but not generating the expected red wave – have sparked a fresh round of questions for Republicans about turning away from Mr. Trump and his stolen election claims.
For his part, a week after the midterms, Mr Trump kept his stolen campaign talks in check on Tuesday when he announced his 2024 White House run.
“It’s everyday quality of life issues that seemed to draw voters’ attention to the denial argument they’ve heard about but are willing to move on from,” said David McCuan, a political science professor at Sonoma State University. “That works for Trump’s base, giving him a likely plurality in a Republican primary today, but that may not be the case a year from now.”
Mr Trump will test that theory after making his third bid for the White House, and Ms Lake’s visit to Mar-a-Lago added to speculation that she might be tapped as his running mate before the end of the year could year.
“It gives him an opportunity to make headlines that he doesn’t understand,” McCuan said. “Instead of being buried in the New York Post, he’s going straight back to the front-page headlines.”
It also gives Ms. Lake a political path forward.
“Both win by losing, which is part of the Trump MO,” he said. “It’s part of his political art – even a defeat is a win.”