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Trump-backed Kari Lake wins Arizona GOP gubernatorial nod

Lake won the primary for governor, sweeping the table for Trump-backed candidates in the state.

PHOENIX (CN) — Kari Lake has defeated Karrin Taylor Robson in Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial primary, delivering a final win in a Trump-backed sweep for candidates in the state.

The clinch comes two days after the primary polling locations closed Tuesday, with over 718,000 Arizonans choosing to vote in the GOP contest. Lake’s victory caps a chaotic 48 hours, which saw her move from a 10-point deficit to a late Tuesday night lead, then onto a Thursday statistical victory.

The late surge by Lake is attributed to a superior late in-person ballot count, which contrasts the early-ballot vote tabulation advantage seen early by Robson. Late Tuesday, Lake said she was winning votes cast on Election Day at 58% to 33%. Those ballots were tabulated after the mail-in ballots.

Lake, however, fell short of a simple majority with 46% of the electorate. The runner-up, Robson, received 44% of the vote. The divide prompted outreach from Lake, urging the endorsement and collaboration from her defeated GOP opponents.

“Matt Salmon gave it a really tough fight and he is a good man,” Lake said at a Wednesday victory press conference. “He said good things for our state and I hope to bring him in and that he will work with us because we truly want to bring the Republican Party together. And I'm hoping that Karrin Taylor Robson — who put a lot of blood sweat and tears into this battle — will come in and work with us as well. We are about to bring the party together.”

Despite her victory, Lake was not pleased with the election process, alluding to errors and potential fraud tied to ballot shortages in one county.

“I think if you looked at how last night and yesterday went down, you can see there were some very serious problems,” she said. “The fact that in Pinal County … people showed up [and] in one hour into the polls being open, they ran out of ballots. We've seen irregularities. We're monitoring things, and we will continue to report them to the officials.”

Lake’s upcoming general election opponent, Katie Hobbs, is the state’s current secretary of state. Hobbs is the officer in charge of the state’s election response.

With the general election three months away and a Lake-initiated federal suit tied to the 2020 election pending in court, she is poised to make election integrity a campaign strategy moving forward.

“I think she broke laws, but I know for a fact that there's not an equal level playing field when it comes to the justice system,” she said about Hobbs Wednesday. “The Democrats never go to prison. And what she did yesterday [is] she ran a horrible election … she embarrassed the state of Arizona, and she wants to take that incompetence that she's shown as secretary of state and now move it to the governor's office. The people won't have it.”

Lake deflected when asked about her stance on abortion at her press conference.

“We have great laws on the books, and we're going to work with those,” she said.

In Arizona, the state is currently in a legal gray zone due to the two conflicting abortion laws on its books. The first is a pre-Roe ban, which bars abortion procedures, while a recent law bans abortion after 15 weeks except in cases where it would save the mother’s life.

The state’s current GOP attorney general is working on a legal motion to re-instate the pre-Roe ban, supposing that the post-Roe law is invalid after Roe’s nullification.

According to a May survey by OH Predictive Insights, 87% of registered voters in Arizona believe that abortion should be legal in some way. Only 13% of voters wanted abortion banned outright.

“This race isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans. It’s about sanity vs. chaos. @KariLake has gone radical and is far too dangerous for Arizona,” tweeted Hobbs, shortly after Lake’s win.

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