Tucson, Ariz. ( Associated Press) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has already helped prevent one of former President Donald Trump’s allies from winning the Republican nomination for governor in a crucial battleground state. Now he’s hoping to replicate that in his own backyard.
Ducey is part of a growing effort among established Republicans to raise little-known housing developer Karin Taylor Robson against former television news anchor Kari Lake, who is backed by Trump. Other prominent Republicans, including former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, have also stood behind Robson in recent days.
On Monday, Robson’s campaign announced its endorsement of former Vice President Mike Pence, who will campaign with him on Friday — the same day Trump is scheduled to hold a rally for Lake, a move underlining the divide between the GOP establishment and Split-screen is making the moment. Trump.
Read more: Arizona police bans filming within 8 feet of officers
The push for Robson is a reminder of how many prominent Republicans, including Ducey, rallied around Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the final stages of his ultimately successful bid to stop the Trump-backed primary challenger.
Few states have been at the center of Trump’s election, as Georgia and Arizona, the two closest 2020 battlegrounds where he aggressively pushed to reverse the results and Kemp and Ducey refused to go along. Trump has already suffered a setback in Georgia, and the August 2 race in Arizona is one of his last chances to set the score and set up allies to lead the states that plan to run again in 2024. Can prove to be decisive when making a decision.
“In Arizona, people are as free-minded as they are in Georgia, and they choose the person they think will be best for the responsibility,” Ducey told the Associated Press. “In Georgia, voters said Brian Kemp, and I’m hopeful in Arizona, they’ll say Karin Taylor Robson.”
As an incumbent sought re-election, Kemp had an advantage over his primary rival, David Purdue, and eventually defeated him by about 52 percentage points. Without an incumbent on the ballot — Ducey faces a term limit — the GOP contest in Arizona would be very close.
But what once seemed like an insurmountable lead for Lake could be a more competitive finish. With voting already commencing, Robson is drawing on her family’s vast fortune to get her out of the lake, which, despite Trump’s backing, has lagged behind in fundraising. By the end of June, Robson had spent the lake over 5 to 1.
The final maneuver by some key GOP figures could prove crucial in a close race. Beyond Ducey and Christie’s, Robson has drawn support from former U.S. Representative Matt Salmon, who dropped out of the gubernatorial race and endorsed him. The Border Patrol Union, meanwhile, broke with Trump and backed Robson, citing Lake’s earlier statements supporting the path to citizenship for people living in the country illegally.
Pence, who split with Trump notably in Georgia and campaigned with Kemp, praised Robson as “the only candidate for governor who will keep Arizona’s border safe and the streets safe, empowering parents.” Will build and build great schools, and promote conservative values.” Pence said he was “proud to support him.”
For her part, Lake is an unlikely MAGA champion. A famous former local news anchor who donated to Barack Obama and spent years hanging out with drag queens at a gay bar near the television station, Lake was once an opponent of Trump’s brand of politics.
watch: How Georgia, Arizona officials defended the election from pressure from Trump
Yet she has risen to the top of the field since stepping away from her three-decade television career, declaring “journalism is dead” and taking a sledgehammer to the TV stack.
She built on the powerful connections she’s made with audiences over 27 years in the Phoenix media market and a uniquely strong bond with the base that propelled Trump to the White House in 2016 and still doesn’t believe he’ll lose in 2020. Went.
When he mentioned it during a rally in Phoenix last year, Trump was also impressed with the ovation inspired by his name. He supported her after some time.
In turn, she has embraced her combative style, her narrative about the 2020 election – she falsely says it was corrupt and theft – and her tough approach to border security. She moved away from her close ties with the family of John McCain and is now feuding with the children of the late US senator.
“We’re either going way past who McCain is running the Mafia show, or we’re going to go with America first,” Lake told a crowd of hundreds at a western country bar in Tucson last week. Many arrived more than an hour early and were waiting in the southern Arizona heat for a chance to get inside.
Lake, 52, regularly harassed journalists trying to question him and released the footage on social media.
Last year, she said she wanted to install cameras in classrooms to monitor teachers, in response to the right to education in public schools on caste and history.
If elected, she says, she would immediately invoke an untested legal doctrine that illegal immigration is an “invasion” of the United States and ask the governor to remove people from the country without proceeding in immigration courts. Gives the power of war.
Read more: As political dominance wavers, Arizona Republicans battle a culture war against abortion and LGBTQ rights
Since Robson and his associates began their full-court press release, Lake has claimed without evidence that “they may be trying to set the stage for another theft.”
“They’ve been such RINOs for so long, and I can’t believe they have our country as a priority,” said Rosa Alfonso, a 60-year-old speech language pathologist in Tucson. “It is a great thing.”
Robson, 57, is making his first run for office, though he has a lifelong connection to GOP politics. Her father and brother both held elected positions as Republicans.
An advocate for real estate developers, she has been at the center of the suburban sprawl that has driven the Phoenix area’s singular development. Ducey appointed him to the board overseeing three of Arizona’s public universities, his most high-profile public role before running for governor.
“These are serious times,” Robson said during a recent debate. “We need a serious candidate with a record of achievement.”
Her husband, housing developer Ed Robson, 91, is one of the state’s richest residents, amassing a fortune building master planned retirement communities. She says the 2020 election was “unfair”, but stopped calling it a fraud. Like a lake, she is running like a border eagle.
She brands her opponent “Fake Lake”, highlighting the $350 donation she made to Obama’s 2008 campaign, although Robson himself has contributed a large sum of money to the Democrats.
“It’s all an act,” Ducey said of Lake. “The campaign she’s running doesn’t match her life for the last three decades, nor does her conversation with me. She’s doing a show. We’ll see how many people buy it.”
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed reporting from New York.