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Is Kari Lake’s Political Career Done?

Kari Lake. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore.
Kari Lake speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Dillon Precision in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Does Kari Lake have a future in Republican politics?Prior to the 2022 midterm elections, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was being talked about as someone with a bright political future, with her name even mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for Donald Trump, should he win the Republican nomination again- to the point where, in October, Lake had to vow to serve a full four-year term should she win the election. 

A former news anchor, Kari Lake was thought to have a unique appeal to the conservative base. 

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“Why Kari Lake is the next Republican Star,” a Politico headline screamed in October, for a column by longtime National Review editor Rich Lowry. 

“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. 

“Win or lose, there’s no doubt that a major political talent has emerged. Kari 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.”

But then, of course, the election happened. Kari Lake lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs, and rather than concede defeat — as most losing candidates, even those who were vocal “stop the steal” believers, did in the 2022 cycle — Lake refused to do so, going on to launch a series of no-hope legal challenges. 

At the same time, the nationwide election results in 2022 demonstrated that bogus “stop the steal” narratives, with which Kari Lake is closely associated, are somewhat repellant to swing voters, especially in swing states.

And a politician tying herself closely to Trump doesn’t have the strength that it once did- and should the former president get indicted in the new year, that’s only going to get worse. 

The Hill wrote this week that “GOP doubts grow about Kari Lake’s future in Arizona.” 

“Even as Lake insists she’ll one day be sworn in as the state’s governor — a pitch that might spark hope among her most fervent supporters — Republicans in the state are saying her continued push may just sink her further,” the report said. 

“I think the enormous amount of ill will that she’s going to create as a result of the appeal — I mean, it’s OK to file a case, but then some of the stuff she’s been saying on media and posts and just the degradation of the Arizona institutions — I think is really going to hurt her out here,”  Arizona Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin told The Hill “And I don’t really think she’s got a future in terms of her own electoral space here in Arizona.”

Coughlin added that he expects Lake to serve as a campaign surrogate for Trump in his 2024 presidential run, or possibly pursue a career in the conservative media. 

Lake may have an opening, however, in Arizona’s 2024 Senate race, which is shaping up as one of the weirdest in recent memory. Sen. Krysten Sinema is up for re-election and recently announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party to become independent. This creates a possible scenario in 2024 in which Sinema runs as an independent, against both Democratic and Republican opponents. Rep. Ruben Gallego (R-AZ), a longtime Sinema critic, seems likely to run as a Democrat,. to face both Sinema and a Republican candidate. 

Could that candidate be Lake?

An extremely early poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), as cited by Newsweek,  found that in a three-way race of Sinema, Gallego, and Lake, “Kyrsten Sinema would get just 13% to 41% for Kari Lake and 40% for Ruben Gallego.” 

The race is, of course, two years away, and none of the candidates have even declared; Lake, at this late date, still claims that she’s going to become governor.

But it does show a dynamic that could have Sinema and Gallego splitting the Democratic vote and a Republican — possibly Kari Lake herself —squeezing by to win. 

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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.