Forget Ron DeSantis: Here's why Dems should be very nervous about Kari Lake
Ron DeSantis and Kari Lake / Gage Skidmore

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been widely heralded as the top rising star in the Republican Party, but a former newscaster in Arizona may bump the former congressman and Harvard Law graduate off his perch.

"Kari Lake is a dual frontrunner," conservative Rich Lowry wrote for Politico. "She is more likely than not to win her race for governor of Arizona, and then would have to be considered the favorite to become Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick should he win the Republican nomination again in 2024."

Lake is a prominent election denier who has attacked the media for reporting on her QAnon ties, leaving Lowry to conclude she would fail to gain traction, like election-denying state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who is running for governor in Pennsylvania.

"To the contrary, Lake has been a surprise. At the same time, she’s a reminder of the oldest of conventional political adages — candidate quality matters," Lowry wrote. "You can peddle conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and sink beneath the waves if you are a state senator with no especially notable political skills; or you can peddle conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and achieve liftoff if you are an exceptionally poised former news anchor."

Lake is facing Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who has refused to debate the former local Fox anchor.

"Lake is the latest in a line of female champions of a grass-roots conservative populism that runs from Phyllis Schlafly to Sarah Palin to Marjorie Taylor Greene, spanning the 1950s to today," Lowry wrote. "What’s new about Lake and MTG is that loyalty to Donald Trump and the insistence that the 2020 election was stolen are now the litmus tests for this grassroots populism."

Lowry thinks Lake could be a top contender to be on the GOP's 2024 presidential ticket.

"If Lake wins, she instantly has to be at the top of Trump’s potential VP list. There won’t be many other major officeholders as enthusiastic about his 2020 fixation as Lake. She’d be a governor from a crucial swing state. She’s a woman. And she’s thoroughly absorbed the Trumpian practice of politics as combat and theater and can build a crowd," Lowry wrote. "If nothing else, though, we now know what a desperate misjudgment it was for Democrats to subtly assist Lake in the GOP primary. They thought they were propping up a patsy, when they were really helping create a star they may have to fear and loathe for years."

Lake was also praised in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday by former Ronald Reagan chief speechwriter Kenneth Khachigian.

"What makes Ms. Lake’s message different is its simplicity and fearlessness. It’s unapologetic and sincere, not clothed in code words," Khachigian wrote. "Ms. Lake’s popularity is booming because she has left behind the conventions of the past and called out her opponents for what they are. Maybe it was inadvertent, but she has adopted Ronald Reagan’s 1976 call for a Republican Party 'raising a banner of bold colors, no pale pastels' and 'standing for certain values which will not be impaired.'"

On Tuesday, Lake campaigned with former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and on Wednesday with Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA).

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