WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Kari Lake, a defeated far-right Arizona gubernatorial candidate and unabashed election denier, announced her run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Former President Donald Trump also endorsed Lake at last night’s launch. Lake’s announcement comes after a monthslong, still ongoing legal challenge over her 2022 loss for Arizona governor. A former news anchor, Lake now follows in former President Donald Trump’s footsteps, stoking election conspiracies among her base.
It’s been almost a year since the November 2022 midterm elections, but Lake’s election contest — filed in the days following the certification of the election, contesting her loss — is still ongoing after Lake appealed the dismissal of her last remaining thoroughly debunked claim to the Arizona Court of Appeals. Lake lost the governor’s race to Gov. Katie Hobbs (R) by 17,000 votes. Her lawsuit hinges on allegations of illegal votes, with the initial complaint citing everything from commingling between tabulated and untabulated ballots, long wait times, machine failures, chain of custody issues, Arizona’s signature matching procedures and alleged censorship from then-Secretary of State Hobbs.
In the lawsuit, Lake asks to undo “Maricopa County’s canvass and Arizona’s certification of the results” and conduct a re-run of the election in Maricopa County, the country’s fourth most populous county and a Democratic stronghold. Alternatively, Lake requests that she should simply be declared the winner.
The trial judge outright dismissed eight out of the 10 claims Lake originally asserted. Two much narrower claims were argued before a judge in a two-day trial in December 2022, before the contest was fully rejected. The lawsuit was rejected again on appeal before the appellate court. The Arizona Supreme Court rejected all but one of Lake’s claims. The remaining claim — which alleges that the lower court erred when it dismissed issues over signature verification — went back to the trial court, where it was dismissed in late May. Lake’s appeal of this most recent dismissal is ongoing.
This election contest is not the first time Lake found herself in Arizona court: In April 2022, Lake, alongside election denier and secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem (R), filed a lawsuit to end the use of electronic tabulators in the state of Arizona. The complaint alleged that the vote tallies reported by electronic voting machines cannot be trusted. This lawsuit was dismissed and a district judge sanctioned Lake, Finchem and their attorneys for filling in the gaps in their legal arguments “with false, misleading, and speculative allegations.” Lake and Finchem have since appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals.
Earlier this year, in July, some of Lake’s lawyers were sanctioned $120,000 for filing the “frivolous” election lawsuit — a fate other persistent election deniers in Arizona, including the Republican National Committee and failed attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh, have also recently met.
Lake joins far-right Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb in the race for the Republican nomination. Lamb is part of the “constitutional sheriffs” group, an extreme movement with roots in white supremacy that has recently leaned into efforts to criminalize elections.
The closely watched Senate race comes after sitting Sen. Krysten Sinema (I-Ariz.), elected as a Democrat in 2018, announced she was leaving the party in December 2022 to become an independent. U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a five-term congressman also running for this Senate seat, outraised Sinema in the first few months of 2023 and gained the support of the Grand Canyon State’s progressive wing. Though Sinema has not yet announced she will be running for re-election, she is expected to do so. The political dynamic will set up a heated three-party Senate race in the closely contested state.