Typically, when media outlets project election winners, the loser comes out soon afterward to officially concede the race. Yet when decision desks announced that Arizona’s secretary of state Katie Hobbs had defeated conservative firebrand Kari Lake in the state’s hotly contested gubernatorial election, no such concession came.
One week later, Lake’s position remains unchanged. Even though the election was called last Monday evening, Lake’s first definitive statement didn’t come until four days later. In an interview with Mail Online on Friday, she blasted the election system in Arizona’s Maricopa County as “worse than in banana republics.” “I believe at the end of the day that this will be turned around and I don’t know what the solution will be but I still believe I will become governor, and we are going to restore honesty to our elections,” she continued.
Given Trump’s abject failure to legally challenge the 2020 election results, Lake’s confidence is likely misguided. However, her worries are not necessarily without merit. Amid election day voting, which heavily favors Republican candidates, voting machines at several polling locations in Maricopa County failed, causing long delays and preventing potentially thousands of voters from casting their ballots. What’s more, election officials took over a week to count all the votes, while states such as Florida had the process wrapped up hours after polls closed.
At a time when trust in elections and American democracy is at an all-time low, such failings are utterly unforgivable. This, combined with the fact the election was overseen by Hobbs as the incumbent secretary of state, will sow even more distrust among the tens of millions of Republicans still upset over the shenanigans of the 2020 presidential election, when Arizona was ground zero for allegations of electoral mismanagement. The inevitable slew of post-election lawsuits may impact the running of future elections, but any substantive change to the results is highly unlikely.
With Lake’s efforts almost certainly destined to fail, the question now is what comes next for this 53-year-old former television anchor? Over the course of her campaign, she has become immensely popular among the conservative grassroots, many of whom adore her combative style and steadfast support of Donald Trump. The Washington Post reported that she received a standing ovation this weekend when appearing at a luncheon hosted by the America First Policy Institute, an advocacy group set up by former Trump advisers.
The former president has also taken note of her loyalty, earning Lake an invitation to Mar-a-Lago as well as his backing of the claim that the election was stolen from her. Speculation is now growing that given his inexplicable jibes at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis following DeSantis’s blowout re-election victory in what historically is considered a swing state, Trump may turn to a figure such as Lake to be his 2024 running mate.
Yet there are many hurdles to overcome. Trump likes to back winners, but Lake’s apparent failure to win a gubernatorial seat held by a Republican incumbent will severely hinder her chances. There is also her obvious lack of political experience. Had she won the race, that would have given her at least 18 months of experience as the leader of one of America’s largest and politically important states. Her failure to do so means that she not only has no experience in high office, but in any office whatsoever.
Most presidential candidates only announce their running mates after clinching the nomination, which in Trump’s case is by no means inevitable. A source close to Trump told The Spectator World: “The president is a huge fan of Kari, but I doubt he would pick someone with no political experience. Kari and her campaign still believe they have a path to victory, so we will have to wait and see.”
Should Trump decline to choose Lake as a running mate, her options are still plentiful. Her powerful charisma and hardline commitment to the America First movement represent a compelling blend that could open up future runs for local and national office or opportunities at Fox News and other conservative media. One need only look at Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, whose clout within the Democratic Party only grew following her narrow defeat to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in 2018. For someone like Lake, electoral defeat is by no means a political death knell.