The GOP establishment is stepping up its efforts to block Trump’s ally in Arizona.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona Governor Doug Ducey once helped block one of Donald Trump’s former presidents allies to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination in a crucial battleground state. Now he hopes for a repeat in his own backyard.

Ducey is part of a burgeoning effort among establishment Republicans to pit little-known real estate developer Karrin Taylor Robson against former Trump-backed TV news anchor Kari Lake. Other prominent Republicans, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christiehave also lined up behind Robson in recent days.

The push is reminiscent of the number of prominent Republicans who rallied around Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on the home stretch of his ultimately successful bid to fend off a Trump-endorsed primary challenger.

Few states have been as central to Trump’s election lies as Georgia and Arizona, the two closest battlegrounds to 2020 where he aggressively pushed to overturn the results and fumed when Kemp and Ducey refused. follow. Trump has already faced a setback in Georgia, and the August 2 race in Arizona is one of his last opportunities to settle scores and install allies to lead states that could prove decisive if he decides to run again in 2024.

“In Arizona, people are independent-minded, much like they are in Georgia, and they choose whoever they think will be best for accountability,” Ducey told The Associated Press. “Voters in Georgia said Brian Kemp, and hopefully in Arizona they say Karen Taylor Robson.”

As an incumbent seeking re-election, Kemp had an advantage over his main rival, David Perdue, and ultimately beat him by nearly 52 percentage points.. Without an incumbent on the ballot — Ducey faces term limits — the GOP contest in Arizona will likely be much closer.

But what once looked like an insurmountable lead for Lake could end in a more competitive finish. With early voting already underway, Robson is tapping into his family’s vast fortune to drown out Lake who, despite Trump’s approval, has fallen behind in fundraising. Robson had Lake out 5-to-1 by the end of June.

The final maneuver of some GOP figures could prove significant in a close race. Beyond Ducey and Christie, Robson won the support of former U.S. Representative Matt Salmon, who dropped out of the gubernatorial race and endorsed it. The Border Patrol union, meanwhile, broke with Trump and backed Robson, citing in part Lake’s earlier statements supporting a path to citizenship for people living in the country illegally.

Former Vice President Mike Pencewho notably split from Trump in Georgia and campaigned alongside Kemp, has yet to choose sides in Arizona.

For her part, Lake is an unlikely MAGA champion.

A well-known former local news anchor who donated to Barack Obama and for years with drag queens at a gay bar near the TV station, Lake was once the antithesis of Trump politics.

Yet she has rocketed to the top of the pack since stepping away from her three-decade-long television career, declaring “journalism is dead” and taking a sledgehammer from a pile of TVs.

She built on the powerful connection she had formed with viewers in the Phoenix media market over 27 years with the local Fox affiliate and created a unique and strong bond with the base that propelled Trump to the House. Blanche in 2016 and still doesn’t believe it. lost in 2020.

Even Trump seemed impressed by the standing ovation his name inspired when he mentioned it at a rally in Phoenix last year. He approved it soon after.

She, in turn, has embraced his combative style, his narrative about the 2020 election – she incorrectly says she was corrupt and robbed – and his hardline approach to border security. She has distanced herself from her close ties to John McCain’s family and is now feuding with the late US senator’s children.

“Either we’re going to go the way of the past, which is the McCain mob running the show, or we’re going to follow America first,” Lake told a crowd of hundreds at a bar. country western in Tucson last week. Many arrived well over an hour early and waited in the southern Arizona heat for a chance to enter.

Lake, 52, regularly berates reporters who try to interview him and posts the footage on social media.

Last year, she said she wanted to install cameras in classrooms to monitor teachers, nodding to the backlash over the right to lessons about race and history in public schools.

If elected, she says, she would immediately invoke an untested legal theory that illegal immigration constitutes an “invasion” of the United States and gives the governor wartime powers to remove people from the country without due process before the courts. immigration courts.

Since Robson and his allies began their all-court press, Lake claimed without evidence that “they might be trying to set the stage for another robbery.”

“They’ve been such RINOs for so long, and I don’t believe they have our country as a priority,” said Rosa Alfonso, a 60-year-old speech pathologist in Tucson. “It’s a big problem.”

Robson, 57, is running for office for the first time, despite having longstanding ties to GOP politics. His father and brother both held elected office as Republicans.

A lawyer for real estate developers, she was at the center of the suburban sprawl that propelled the prodigious growth of the Phoenix area. Ducey appointed her to the board of trustees overseeing Arizona’s three public universities, her most prominent public role before she stepped down to run for governor.

“These are serious times,” Robson said during a recent debate. “We need a serious candidate with a record of accomplishment.”

Her husband, real estate developer Ed Robson, 91, is one of the state’s wealthiest residents, amassing a fortune building planned retirement communities. She says the 2020 election was “unfair” but refrained from calling it fraudulent. Like Lake, she runs like a border hawk.

She tags her rival “Fake Lake,” pointing to a $350 donation she made to the Obama campaign in 2008, though Robson has contributed large sums to Democrats herself.

“It’s quite an act,” Ducey said of Lake. “The campaign she’s running is nothing like the life she’s lived for the past three decades, or the interactions she’s had with me. She puts on a show. We’ll see how many people buy it.

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