The Arizona Fake Lake Campaign Will Hinge On The Weird Republican Obsession With Drag Queens
In 1932 FDR won every county in Arizona and beat Herbert Hoover 67.0%-30.5%. Four years later, FDR beat Alf Landon, 68.8%-26.9% and, again, with every county. Screaming socialists, the Republicans then put up Wendell Willkie and FDR bested him 63.5% to 36.0%, again taking every county in the state. And in his final run, FDR beat Thomas Dewey 58.8% to 40.0% (and every county). In 1948, the Republicans expected to take Arizona— but they didn’t. Harry Trump beat Dewey, winning every county, 53.8% to 43.8%. And that was pretty much it for the Democrats. Eisenhower won with 58.4% in 1952 and with 60.9% in 1956. In 1960, Nixon beat JFK in Arizona, 55.5% to 44.4% and in 1964 hometown hero Barry Goldwater beat LBJ narrowly 50.5% to 49.5%. Nixon beat Humphrey with 54.% to 35.0% (with George Wallace at 9.6%) and then in 1972 beat McGovern 61.5% to 30.4%. Even Gerald Ford won the state, beating Jimmy Carter 56.4% to 39.8%. Reagan won massively both times, followed by a George W Bush win in 1988 and again in 1992 against Clinton. Then there was a brief interruption to Republican electoral hegemony when a 3-way contest, gave Bill Clinton a plurality win over Bob Dole (and Ross Perot). George W. Bush won twice, McCain beat Obama and then so did Romney. In 2016 Trump beat Hillary and by 2020 Arizona voters said “no more years” and gave Biden. Narrow win over Trump— 1,672,143 (49.36%) to 1,661,686 (49.6). I think the loss of Arizona freaked Trump out and dragged him over the edge— more so than Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and maybe even more the Georgia.
Yesterday, writing for the Associated Press, Jonathan Cooper reported that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a major Trump antagonist, is “part of a burgeoning effort among establishment Republicans to lift up little-known housing developer Karrin Taylor Robson against former television news anchor Kari Lake, who is backed by Trump.” Others who have gotten behind Robson include Chris Christie, former Congressman Matt Salmon, who dropped out of the race and endorsed her, and Mike Pence. In fact, Pence will be in Arizona campaigning for her on Friday, on the same day Señor Trumpanzee is holding a MAGA-rally for his crackpot candidate, “creating,” wrote Cooper, “a split-screen moment underscoring the divide between the GOP establishment and Trump. The push for Robson is reminiscent of how many leading Republicans, including Ducey, rallied around Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the final stretch of his ultimately successful bid to fend off a Trump-endorsed primary challenger.”
Few states have been as central to Trump’s election lies as Georgia and Arizona, the two closest 2020 battlegrounds where he pushed aggressively to overturn the results and fumed when Kemp and Ducey refused to go along. Trump has already faced a setback in Georgia, and the Aug. 2 race in Arizona is among his last opportunities to settle scores and install allies to lead states that may prove decisive if he decides to run again in 2024.
“In Arizona, people are independent minded, much like they are in Georgia, and they pick the person that they think will be best for the responsibility,” Ducey told the Associated Press. “In Georgia, the voters said Brian Kemp, and I’m hopeful in Arizona, they’ll say Karrin Taylor Robson.”
As an incumbent seeking reelection, Kemp had an advantage over his primary rival, David Perdue, and ultimately defeated him by nearly 52 percentage points. Without an incumbent on the ballot— Ducey faces term limits— the GOP contest in Arizona will likely be much closer.
But what once looked like an insurmountable lead for Lake could end in a more competitive finish. With early voting already underway, Robson is drawing on her family’s vast fortune to drown out Lake who, despite Trump’s endorsement, has lagged in fundraising. Robson had outspent Lake more than 5 to 1 as of the end of June.
…The Border Patrol union, meanwhile, broke with Trump and backed Robson, citing in part Lake’s prior statements supporting a pathway to citizenship for people living in the country illegally.
Pence, who notably split with Trump in Georgia and campaigned alongside Kemp, praised Robson as “the only candidate for Governor that will keep Arizona’s border secure and streets safe, empower parents and create great schools, and promote conservative values.” Pence said he was ”proud to support her.”
For her part, Lake is an unlikely MAGA champion.
A well-known former local news anchor who donated to Barack Obama and for years hung around with drag queens at a gay bar near the television station, Lake once was the antithesis of Trump’s brand of politics.
Yet she rocketed to the top of the field since she walked away from her three-decade television career, declared “journalism is dead” and took a sledgehammer to a pile of TVs.
She built on the powerful connection she’d formed with viewers over 27 years in the Phoenix media market and created a uniquely strong bond with the base that propelled Trump to the White House in 2016 and still doesn’t believe he lost in 2020.
Even Trump seemed impressed by the ovation her name inspired when he mentioned it during a rally in Phoenix last year. He endorsed her a short time later.
She, in turn, has adopted his combative style, his narrative about the 2020 election— she falsely says it was corrupt and stolen— and his get-tough approach to border security. She’s walked away from her close ties with John McCain’s family and now feuds with the late U.S. senator’s children.
“We’re either gonna go the way of the past, which is the McCain mafia running the show, or we’re gonna go with America first,” Lake told a crowd of hundreds at a country western bar in Tucson last week. Many arrived well over an hour early and waited in the Southern Arizona heat for a chance to get inside.
Lake, 52, routinely berates journalists trying to question her and releases the footage on social media.
Last year, she said she wants to put cameras in classrooms to monitor teachers, nodding to the backlash on the right to teachings on race and history in public schools.
If elected, she says, she’d immediately invoke an untested legal theory that illegal immigration constitutes an “invasion” of the United States and gives the governor war powers to remove people from the country without proceedings in immigration courts.
Since Robson and her allies began their full-court press, Lake has claimed without evidence that “they might be trying to set the stage for another steal.”
…[Robson] brands her rival “Fake Lake,” highlighting a $350 donation she gave to Obama’s 2008 campaign, though Robson has herself contributed large sums to Democrats.
“It’s all an act,” Ducey said of Lake. “The campaign she’s been running bears no resemblance to the life she’s lived for the past three decades, nor to the interactions that she’s had with me. She’s putting on a show. We’ll see how many people buy it.”
On State of the Union Sunday, Ducey tore into Lake: “I think Karrin Taylor Robson will be the best person to be a fresh new leader for the state of Arizona. Her opponent, on the other hand, bears no resemblance— her campaign or even her personal interactions with me— to anything she’s done over the past 30 years. This is all an act… Kari Lake is misleading voters with no evidence. She’s been tagged by her opponents with a nickname, Fake Lake, which seems to be sticking and actually doing some damage.” He went on to assert Robson is “the real conservative” in the race who backs a “pro-wall, pro-gun, pro-life” agenda.
Yesterday Alex Isenstadt reported that “an OH Predictive Insights survey conducted just before Ducey endorsed Robson showed Lake with a narrow lead. But Lake has faced accusations of hypocrisy in recent days, following allegations that she used to attend drag queen events, even though she has criticized drag queens during her campaign. The controversy has made its way onto the TV airwaves via a super PAC ad attacking Lake. And Lake has responded to the situation by sending a cease and desist letter to the accuser, Arizona drag queen Richard Stevens, in which she calls his statements “defamatory.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s candidate for the Mark Kelly Senate seat, Blake Masters (a Peter Thiel owned and operated property), is already whining that the GOP primary in Arizona is fixed. Early this morning, CNN noted that “the election denialism that has become a powerful force in Arizona GOP primaries since Joe Biden narrowly won the state in 2020 has also raised questions about whether a GOP nominee who says Trump won in 2020 can carry a purple state that's crucial to Republicans' hopes of winning Senate control… Masters, trying to mobilize primary voters ahead of August 2, escalated his efforts to sow doubt about US elections late last month, posing questions about whether the cheating he claimed happened in 2020 will happen in 2022.”
"I remember when President Trump called to endorse me he said, 'Blake, you're great, you're going to be a star, you're going to win, you're going to beat Mark Kelly— if you can get a fair election,'" Masters said. He went on to say that his father urged him not to run, asserting that even if he won by 30,000 votes, "they'll find 40,000 for Mark Kelly," to which he said he replied, "I think there's always cheating, probably, in every election. The question is what's the cheating capacity."
C. Murphy Hebert, spokeswoman for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat running for governor, said, "Arizona voters can expect secure and accurate elections." Hebert added, "Statements like this are completely unfounded and are clearly meant to create chaos and doubt to undermine faith in the election processes."
…"A vast majority of the unaffiliated and independent voters do not believe that there is significant fraud that impacted the outcome of the election," [Phoenix-based pollster Paul] Bentz said. "Masters, and others who go down this election fraud route, will struggle to obtain support from those audiences in the general election."
"It's not a winning general election strategy," he added.
Masters— who has also floated the conspiracy theory that the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol actually may have been a false-flag operation set up by the FBI— is part of a growing chorus of Trump-endorsed Senate Republican candidates who are raising fears about the security of the 2022 election.