Even this conservative thinks Kari Lake has become a major liability for the GOP
Kari Lake speaking with attendees at a candidate forum hosted by the Arizona Legislative District 28 Republican Party. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Despite losing to Democratic now-Gov. Katie Hobbs in Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial race, far-right Republican conspiracy theorist Kari Lake remains a rock star in the MAGA movement. But Lake, once a television reporter, is incredibly polarizing. Although MAGA Republicans adore her, many of Lake’s detractors — from liberals and progressives to right-wing Never Trump conservatives — were gloating when she lost to Hobbs.

Conservative Washington Post opinion columnist Henry Olsen is one of Lake’s critics on the right. In his February 3 column, Olsen argues that Lake has become a liability for the Republican Party and that the last thing Republicans should do is nominate her in Arizona’s 2024 U.S. Senate race.

Lake has not said whether or she plans to run in that race, but if she does run and wins the nomination, there is a good chance she will be up against Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona. Gallego recently announced that he is seeking his party’s nomination to run for the Senate seat presently held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a former Democrat turned independent. Gallego’s announcement got an enthusiastic response from liberals and progressives in his party, and his Senate campaign raised over $1 million in a single day.

Sinema has yet to say whether or not she’s running, but if she does run, that race could become a three-way contest between Sinema, Gallego and a Republican.

“A recent poll for Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat shows the GOP’s problem clearly,” Olsen observes. “Rep. Ruben Gallego, the Democrats’ leading candidate in the race, would beat Lake 50-45 in a two-way race. Republicans would have a better chance of winning if Sinema, who left the Democratic Party to become an independent, decided to run for reelection, thereby making it a three-way race among her, Gallego and Lake. In that scenario, Gallego and Lake would essentially be tied, and Sinema would take 24 percent.”

Lake has been a relentless promoter of the Big Lie, former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Election denialism was a big part of Lake’s gubernatorial campaign, and she has yet to acknowledge that Hobbs legitimately defeated her in 2022.

Olsen, however, stresses that Lake’s election fraud claims “aren’t worth a plugged nickel.”

“The results in Lake’s race show the same patterns that were seen throughout the Trump era,” Olsen explains. “A deep dive by three Arizona analysts shows this conclusively. They examined every ballot counted in Maricopa County in 2022 and found that Lake and other ultra-MAGA nominees lost many more votes among people who otherwise voted Republican than Hobbs and other Democrats lost from habitual Democrats. That is why Lake and the fraud squad lost.”