It appears that Arizona’s self-proclaimed “real governor” may be setting her sights on next becoming Arizona’s next real senator.
No, I don’t mean the real real governor, Gov. Katie Hobbs.
I’m talking about the perpetually aggrieved unsuccessful candidate who runs around all day every day, telling anyone who will listen that evil Republican election officials stole her crown and set all of America on a path to becoming Venezuela.
Get ready, Arizona, for the Kari Lake Vindication Tour.
Laugh if you want but here’s the thing. She could actually win in 2024.
I am not kidding.
Kari Lake still claims she's the 'real governor'
This weekend, CNN’s Kate Sullivan and the Washington Post’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, citing sources, reported that Lake is considering a run for the seat now held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema – something she won’t decide until after she exhausts her appeals contesting the 2022 election.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who is paying attention.
Lake has not gone quietly since losing that November nail biter to Hobbs.
Since her defeat – both at the polls and more recently, in court – she’s become a full-time resident of Fantasyland, making the rounds of the far right’s stolen-election circuit to insist that she, not Hobbs, is Arizona’s “duly elected governor”.
That she, in fact, won in a “landslide”.
Congressional delegation shiftHow did Arizona get here?
You’ve heard it all before. Hundreds of thousands of phony ballots ... sabotage ... corrupt county officials …incompetent judges ... and on and on and on.
“The way we get it changed is we get the real governor, the duly elected governor, myself, in there to work with lawmakers, to change our laws, put some teeth into the laws, and frankly, we need to recall every one of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors,” she told the far-right Real America’s Voice earlier this month.
But she also sounds like she's campaigning
And oh, by the way, she’s formed a nonprofit if you want to give her money.“They are running our elections like they do in Venezuela, like they do in North Korea,” she told Steve Bannon on Sunday. “And if we don’t stand up and fix it now our children will be living in a communist country.”
Kari Lake losing = the end of America. Got it.
Of course, Lake offers no actual evidence to back up any of her schtick.
But then, she's not really building a court case anymore. She’s building a political springboard – on a pack of lies about an election she lost.
On Jan. 14, Lake-endorsed candidates were elected by grassroots Republicans to lead the Maricopa County Republican Party for the next two years. Her picks won three of the five offices including chair and first vice chair, defeating candidates endorsed by state GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward and Rep. Andy Biggs – both of whom are mentioned as possible Senate candidates in 2024.
During an appearance Sunday on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Lake was asked by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee whether we would see her on the ballot again. Here was her reply.
“I pray to God and before this election happened, I had this uneasy feeling because my opponent was in charge of the election. I mean that’s kind of crazy, right?” she said. “I just had this feeling, an uneasy feeling and I said God, it’s all about you. You put me in this position, this fantastical journey he put me on. And I said whatever has to happen, if it has to go one way or another … I’m putting my life in your hands. This is now in your hands.”
That sounds like the beginning a campaign to me.
One that could well land her in the U.S. Senate, thanks to Sinema’s departure last month from the Democratic Party.
With Sinema's exodus, Lake could win
Should Sinema decide to run again, Arizona would feature a three-way Senate race in which the incumbent would run as an independent.
Conventional wisdom says the Democratic nominee (likely Rep. Ruben Gallego) would be hurt by Sinema bleeding off the independent vote. But conventional wisdom also says the Arizona Republican Party will nominate yet another extreme candidate, a la the 2022 race that landed a Democrat in the Governor’s Office for the first time in 14 years.
Me? I’m thinking less about conventional wisdom than I am about history repeating itself.
Remember Evan Mecham, the Pontiac dealer and far-right perennial politician who couldn’t get elected to anything?
Until, that is, he ran over then-House Majority Leader Burton Barr, the GOP establishment’s pick for governor in the 1986 Republican primary. That year, Arizona had a three-way race for governor: Mecham, Democrat and former state school Superintendent Carolyn Warner and Bill Schulz, a well-connected apartment developer who jumped into the race as an independent.
Mecham won, with 40% of the vote, and proceeded to take the state on a 445-day roller coaster until finally he was kicked out of office by members of his own party.
Be afraid, Arizona. Be very afraid.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kari Lake could run for Senate. What did Arizona do to deserve this?