Arizona’s GOP governor primary brawl tries to define the ‘real’ Republican

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Queen Creek, Arizona – The last days of the Arizona state wrap-up, Controversial Republican Party Primary Governor It has turned into a slow all-out battle which candidate is the most authentic Republican.

Lake Cary, former announcer With the support of former President Donald Trump, Karen Taylor-Robson says opponent Karen Taylor-Robson’s unwillingness to embrace the entire stolen Trump election lie makes her Reno, or “Republic in Name Only”. Robson, a real estate developer who worked in the White House of former President Ronald Reagan, says that Lake is the fake, Given its recent shift to hardline Trump policy.

While it’s not new for a primary Republican Party to make claims of being “RINO,” or for candidates to litigate over issues of political authenticity, the contest provides one of the purest tests yet of how Republican voters rate loyalty and loyalty to Trump. Allegations of election theft. More broadly, the contest will reveal who can credibly claim the mantle of “Republican” in a party in which Trump remains the most dominant and influential figure.

It’s a debate that’s going on not just in Arizona, but nationwide and is tested in primaries that span from Senate contests to congressional races. Here in the Grand Canyon, one party that has reliably elected Republicans to statewide office for decades but in which Democrats have recently shifted fortunes, how conservatives’ mantle is defined can go a long way in determining which party controls the governor’s mansion anywhere. It is now a critical presidential swing state.

Former Representative Matt Salmon, an Arizona Republican who ran for governor but quit and endorsed Taylor Robson last month, said after a recent Taylor Robson campaign event here that Lake and Taylor Robson are talking about similar issues such as Undocumented immigration, inflation, and law enforcement support are on the stem, but Lake is only building her case for being a true Republican from her stance in 2020, hoping that voters will shrug off other contradictions from her past.

“But what people are looking for is, ‘Well, who’s the real deal? ’” said Salmon, co-founder of Freedom Caucus in the House. “And I got a candidate who says they had the experience of being born again, the moment of coming to Jesus, and now the most conservative thing since sliced ​​bread. The problem is that you can’t find something conservative that the candidate did before she announced her position.”

Whether Lake or Taylor Robson convince more voters that they are the real Republicans It will have great effects Both Trump’s standing in the party and his ongoing efforts to reform how elections are conducted in one of the most important presidential swing states. The Arizona primaries are the latest in a series of high-stakes governor contests taking place in the states he needs to win in 2024 and as he has sought to make 2020 the defining campaign issue. So far he has had mixed results.

But none of his backer candidates campaigned quite as well as Lake, who has threatened to arrest election officials, smashed the state’s Republican leaders and suggested her race could be rigged before the votes are counted. She appears to have built a dedicated support base among Trump’s most faithful, which has led her to excel in the polls. Her supporters are interested in how much she imitated the former president, they appreciate the seriousness of her rhetoric and love how someone remembers watching for years on the local news criticizing the press daily.

“I think Carey is a fantastic candidate,” Steve Bannon, a former White House adviser to Trump, who is now facing indictment on two counts of contempt of Congress after refusing to provide information to a House committee on Jan. 6, told NBC News. “She’s got a national following now. The reason is that given her years in television, she can express the principles of MAGA as well as everyone else.”

But its status as a conservative has increasingly come into question with clips and photos appearing on social media for years contradictory positions It takes has surfaced. Taylor Robson calls her a “fake” and an “actress”.

Taylor Robson, who polls suggest is within walking distance, is winning more traditional Republicans in the state and has the support of Republican Governor Doug Ducey and Former Vice President Mike Pence. (Pence and Trump are holding fencing rallies in Arizona for their favorite candidates on Friday.) Her path to victory is twofold: persuading enough voters who worry that Lake won’t rule because she has promised to join her side while maintaining a more moderate base that worries. Lake will.

Because of her balanced work and a slew of endorsements from prominent Republicans who broke with Trump during 2020, Lake Taylor criticized Robson as a “reno” and a “coward.”

“That’s going to be a key question,” said Sean Noble, an Arizona Republican Party strategist who doesn’t work on the governor’s race. In this field, he said, Lake benefits from her experience in front of the camera and her lack of experience in politics.

A survey conducted by HighGround, an Arizona consulting firm, earlier this month found Lake to outperform Taylor Robson by 3.7 points, within a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. The poll found that Taylor Robson beat independent voters by about 2 to 1, even though they make up only a small percentage of the electorate. But the poll came after Taylor Robson and his allies blanketed the airwaves with millions of ads reaching Lake, suggesting Taylor Robson may not have much room to grow. Arizona Campaign Finance Records show Taylor Robson has spent over $16.4 million on racing while Lake has spent about $3.1 million.

At her rally in Tucson last week to a crowd of a few hundred who thronged to a local bar, Lake spoke about circumventing the federal government to deport illegal immigrants from her state, ending Trump’s border wall and generally not cooperating with federal authorities. She also suggested that Taylor Robson may be trying to “steal” the primaries because she promoted polls that showed a tight race.

“My opponent, RINO, is trying to tell people it’s doing well, it’s at the polls, which I think if you count people who are, you know, dead people,” Lake said. “But it’s not at the polls. It makes me think they might be trying to pave the way for another heist.”

She went on to criticize Taylor Robson for calling the 2020 election “unfair” in a recent television debate.

“You know, my vote was stolen. This is more than just unfair,” Lake told the crowd. “What is unfair is that they are trying to get another RINO McCain/Ducey to clone our throats. And that is unfair.”

There is no evidence that the 2020 vote in Arizona, or any other state, did not reflect the will of the voters. In Arizona, ballot revisions, including a partisan pledge blessed by the state Senate led by the Republican Party, confirmed Biden’s victory. earlier this year, The Republican Attorney General of Arizona has issued a report They found no mass fraud in Maricopa County, where Trump and his allies focused their efforts and allegations. Last week, a group of conservative lawyers, former senators and former judges Issue a 72-page report Definitively refute every fraud case that Trump has filed in court, including one filed in Arizona.

In an interview with NBC News, Taylor Robson said Lake warns that she may not accept the results if she loses “It’s dangerous for Arizona. It’s dangerous for the country, because it undermines our government and our democracy.”

“It’s reprehensible, quite frankly,” Taylor Robson said, arguing that it risks alienating some Republican voters from the polls.

For her supporters, Lake’s aggressive demeanor and willingness to say anything seemingly is part of the appeal. This is what makes it look real to them.

“I really like the way you treat everyone who is trying to expose some kind of fake story about her or trying to contact her,” Carrie Jackson, a Lake supporter, told NBC News outside her rally in Tucson. “And she doesn’t even think about it. It just comes out naturally.”

Carol Van Klee, an 81-year-old Republican from Mesa, said in an interview that Lake’s experience on television was a big plus even though she knows “a lot of people” lean toward Taylor Robson.

“We kind of liked it,” she said of Lake. “We used to see it in the news all the time.”

But in recent weeks Taylor Robson and other conservatives have highlighted a number of past positions and statements that do not align with the way Lake is doing now. A donor to former President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, Lake, who has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of her state’s elections, expressed Support for voting by cell phone in 2016.

Now the “Transgender Movement” and “Wake Up Gender Activists” are attacking you previously Offer sympathetic opinions about gender transition as a reporter, describing one story”inspiring. And although she criticized drag artists as being dangerous to children, A Local drag queen She said you let her daughter to attend Cloud view. (Lake’s campaign said the drag queen was a copycat, not a drag queen.)

The Lake campaign declined to comment for this story.

Ken Dixon, a Republican-allied independent voter in Mesa who supports Trump and distrusts the 2020 results, was leaning toward voting for Lake in the August 2 primary. Then he did more research, and found those inconsistencies.

“I know Trump has endorsed Carrie Lake, but either there are ulterior motives for it or it’s really RINO,” Dixon said.

He supports Taylor Robson now.

“The only thing that [Lake] You want to talk about it, the only thing you want to talk about is what is ensuring her endorsement of Trump — that the election has been stolen and that she is going to cross out the testimony,” Salmon said, adding, “What bothers me more than anything about this woman is that the whole thing is a Snow job.

At Taylor Robson’s event last week on a farm in Queen Creek, the candidate also spoke about her plans to crack down on border crossings, tighten election management and stop “wake up curricula.” It has vowed to try to stop funding any city that has cut police funding or provided sanctuary to illegal immigrants from federal authorities.

Supported by Democrats in ArizonaLake Taylor Robson was targeted for her past donations to state Democrats. But much of Lake’s criticism of her opponent centers on her failure to describe the election as stolen. And at that rally, the audience’s first question was Taylor Robson about how to “ensure a fair election.”

“The one thing I think we can all agree on is the wrong person in the White House,” Taylor Robson said. She reiterated the argument that has become popular with conservatives that pandemic-inspired rule changes and efforts like Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s donations to boost voter turnout tend to favor Democrats.

“In every election, we have to do everything we can to make sure it’s easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Taylor Robson said.

Her supporters feel similarly as Lake does on what they see as the key issues: strengthening the police, cracking down on border crossings, and curbing inflation. They only think that Lake’s efforts to appear as the real Trump will make it impossible for her to win this fall.

“Her whole campaign seems to be aimed at getting as close to Trump as possible, and if you’re a Trump supporter that’s fine, but I think that will turn a lot of people off,” said Ron Leonard, 54. — A one-year-old Republican from Scottsdale, told NBC News.

Taylor Robson has argued that much.

“What really matters is the August 2 election of the Republican candidate who has the potential to win in November,” she said in an interview. “And Carrie Lake has gone to such extremes that it has called her integrity and honesty to be called into question. I mean, like I said, she’s a fake, a bogus, an actress. She’s a good actress. It won’t make her last in November, when all eyes will be on this case.”

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