TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey It already helped block one of former President Donald Trump’s allies since winning the Republican nomination for governor in a key battleground state. Now he’s looking forward to it again in his own backyard.
Doocy is part of a growing effort among establishment Republicans to pit little-known housing developer Karin Taylor Robson against former TV news anchor Kari Lake, who has Trump’s backing. Other prominent Republicans, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christiehave rallied behind Robson in recent days.
On Monday, Robson’s campaign announced the endorsement of former Vice President Mike Pence, who will campaign with her on Friday — the same day Trump plans to hold a rally for the lake, creating a split-screen moment that underscored the divide between the GOP establishment and the GOP establishment. Trump.
The push for Robson is a reminder of how many leading Republicans, including DUC, have rallied around Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in his bid to fend off a Trump-backed primary challenge.
Some states have been central to Trump’s election lies, such as Georgia and Arizona, two of the closest battlegrounds in 2020, where he pushed aggressively to reverse the results and was angered when Kemp and Ducey refused to go along with him. Trump has already suffered a setback in Georgia, and the Aug. 2 race in Arizona is among his last chances to carry the state and shore up allies that could prove decisive if he decides to run again in 2024.
“In Arizona, people are just as independent-minded as they are in Georgia, and they choose the person they think is the best person for the job,” Ducey told The Associated Press. “In Georgia, the voters said Brian Kemp, and I’m confident in Arizona, they’ll say Karin Taylor Robson.”
In a position that was up for re-election, Kemp had an advantage over his primary rival, David Perdue, eventually defeating him by nearly 52 percentage points.. Without an incumbent on the ballot — Ducey faces term limits — the GOP race in Arizona will be very close.
But what once looked like an insurmountable lead for Lake would end in a very competitive finish. With early voting already underway, Robson is using her family’s vast wealth to sink Lake, who is lagging behind in fundraising despite Trump’s endorsement. At the end of June Robson outscored Lake 5 to 1.
A final maneuver by some leading GOP figures could prove significant in a close race. Beyond Ducey and Christie, Robson lined up the support of former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, who dropped out of the gubernatorial race and endorsed him. Meanwhile, the Border Patrol union, breaking with Trump, backed Robson, citing Lake’s previous statements supporting a path to citizenship for people living in the country illegally.
Benz, who split with Trump in Georgia in particular and campaigned alongside Kemp, hailed Robson as “the only candidate for governor who will keep Arizona’s border secure and streets safe, empower parents, build better schools and promote conservative values.” Pence said he was “proud to support her.”
For his part, Lake is an unlikely MAGA champion.
A famous former local news anchor who donated to Barack Obama Having hung out with drag queens for years at a gay bar near the TV station, Lake was once opposed to Trump’s brand of politics.
Yet he has risen to the top of the field since walking away from his three-decade television career, declaring that “journalism is dead” and taking a sledgehammer to a pile of televisions.
He’s built on the powerful connection he’s built with audiences over 27 years in the Phoenix media market and a uniquely strong bond with the platform that carried Trump to the White House in 2016 and still doesn’t believe he lost in 2020.
Trump’s name seemed inspired when he mentioned it during a rally in Phoenix last year. He gave her approval after a while.
He embraced her campaigning style, her narrative about the 2020 election — which she falsely claims was corrupt and stolen — and her hardline approach to border security. He distanced himself from his close ties to John McCain’s family and feuded with the children of the now-deceased US senator.
“We’re either going to go the way of the past, which is the McCain mafia running the show, or we’re going to go with America first,” Lake told a crowd of hundreds at a Country West bar in Tucson last week. Many arrived an hour early, waiting in the southern Arizona heat for a chance to get in.
Lake, 52, routinely berates journalists who try to question him and posts the footage on social media.
Last year, he said he wanted to put cameras in classrooms to monitor teachers, a nod to the right’s backlash for teaching about race and history in public schools.
If elected, he says he would immediately invoke the untested legal doctrine that illegal immigration is an “invasion” of the United States and give the governor war powers to remove people from the country without cases in immigration courts.
Since Robson and his teammates started their full-court press, Lake said, without evidence, “they could be trying to set the stage for another steal.”
“They’ve been RINOs for so long, and I don’t believe they’ve made our country a priority,” said Rosa Alfonso, 60, a speech-language pathologist in Tucson. “That’s a big deal.”
Robeson, 57, is running for office for the first time despite a lifetime of association with GOP politics. His father and brother both held elected office as Republicans.
A lawyer for real estate developers, he was at the center of the suburban sprawl that fueled the phenomenal growth of the Phoenix area. Ducey appointed her to the board that oversees Arizona’s three public universities, her highest public role before running for governor.
“These are serious times,” Robson said during a recent debate. “We need a serious candidate with a track record.”
Her husband, housing developer Ed Robson, 91, is one of the state’s wealthiest residents, a fortune building master-planned retirement communities. He says the 2020 election was “unfair,” but stopped short of calling it rigged. Like Aeri, she runs like a border hawk.
He branded his rival a “fake lake” by donating $350 to Obama’s campaign in 2008, though Robson has given large sums to Democrats.
“It’s all an act,” Ducey said of the lake. “The campaign she’s running bears no resemblance to the life she’s led over the last three decades and her interactions with me. She’s putting on a show. Let’s see how many people buy it.”
This story has been corrected to show that Lake worked in the Phoenix media market for 27 years rather than at the Fox affiliate.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed reporting from New York.
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