Several Republican leaders are having a serious case of the jitters over a possible Senate run by Arizona's Kari Lake. They fear she'll easily win a primary race over more mainstream rivals — then get trounced by a Democrat in the general election, repeating what happened in several midterms in the nation.
Many observers fear Lake is far too extreme to win a general election, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. She's still relentlessly, baselessly challenging her loss in the gubernatorial race to Katie Hobbs. But the Donald Trump-allied, high-profile candidate in a Senate run would likely edge out — or even frighten away — GOP rivals who would appeal to a broader swath of voters.
The GOP primary field is "completely paralyzed, waiting for her next steps," Lake senior adviser Caroline Wren told the Journal, because few Republicans want to race against Lake.
Lake would be tough to beat in a GOP primary, said Mike Noble, chief of research at the nonpartisan Phoenix-based polling company OH Predictive Insights. But she would “have a big problem heading into the general election," he told the Journal.
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AzCentral columnist Laurie Roberts was far harsher in comments last month, calling Lake a "nightmare" candidate for the GOP — "for the part of the Republican Party that’s sick of losing, that is," she added.
Republicans see the seat, currently held by Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, as a GOP pickup opportunity — but probably not with Lake in the mix in what could be a three-way race, many believe.
Independent voters — the second-largest group in the state after Republicans — favored Democrats by more than 30 points in the 2022 midterm elections, according to an Associated Press VoteCast poll. Many Republican leaders believe candidates have to move toward mainstream candidates to win.
Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by right-wing billionaire Charles Koch, is opposing Trump in the presidential race — and is hunting for an alternative to Lake in Arizona, the Journal noted.
“We’re looking for a candidate who can win a general election," Stephen Shadegg, Arizona state director for the group, told the newspaper.