The United States Senate, more than the House, has something of a reputation as an august debating society. And with only 100 members, there’s a higher bar there against the elevation of true crazies.
The House, for instance, this week elected a new Speaker who has long been steeped in conspiracy theories. When a reporter this week asked the then-Speaker-designate, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) about his past election denial, the reporter was booed by the entire assembled House Republican caucus.
The Senate, however, is different. Sure, there are members who denied the 2020 election results, but it would be hard to imagine a Senator whose entire persona is mostly associated with pushing long-debunked conspiracy theories. The Senate doesn’t have many Marjorie Taylor Greenes or Paul Gosars among its ranks.
Then there’s Kari Lake
If Kari Lake gets elected to the U.S. Senate, that will change.
Lake, who ran for governor of Arizona in 2022, lost, and still denies to this day that she lost, has declared that she is running for that state’s Senate race in 2024. It’s likely a three-way race between Lake, Independent incumbent Sen. Krysten Sinema, and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, although Lake faces other Republican candidates, and Sinema has not officially declared that she’s running again.
That dynamic may very well propel Lake into office – and if so, it would put Lake in a position, as a Senator, to push conspiracy theories even more unhinged than those pushed by any current senator. Trump has endorsed Lake in the Senate race, after reportedly calling to discourage losing 2022 Senate candidate Blake Masters from running for the seat.
An MSNBC column by Ja’han Jones this week predicted that Lake could become the “Sidney Powell of the Senate.” Powell, of course, was the Trump attorney who pushed the craziest conspiracy theories of anyone following the 2020 election but has now agreed to plead guilty against Trump in the Georgia RICO case.
“Right-wing grifters are like weeds,” Jones writes. “Just when you think you’ve rid yourself of one, another pops right up. And if Powell’s popularity does, in fact, fade among MAGA faithful, U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake in Arizona seems set to assume the mantle as perhaps the most prominent MAGA ally peddling election lies.”
Jones adds that if Democrats don’t succeed in defeating Lake next year, “she could become the Sidney Powell of the Senate — an election-denying conspiracy theorist who has Trump’s ear and uses her stature to voice his most deluded claims about voting systems.”
Newsweek wrote about Lake’s plan to make her Arizona Senate run “bulletproof.”
Per the report, Lake “asked her supporters to sign a petition to get her on next year’s ballot so she can prove the legitimacy of her bid and to build up a ‘mailing list.’
“Given she is an election skeptic and claims she lost the last election because of fraud, she wants proof beyond proof that she has qualified for the ballot and therefore there is no way election officials in the state can say she did not qualify,” David Schultz, a professor of political science and legal studies at Hamline University, told Newsweek.
“She may fear retaliation from election officials from all her lawsuits and therefore wants to guard against them pushing her off the ballot or saying she does not qualify. Also, more signatures means lists of more potential supporters who may give her money or support.”
Polling of the race so far has Gallego winning on most surveys a year ahead of the election, although one National Research poll has Lake ahead by 4 points. No recent polls have Sinema in the lead.
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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. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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