Kari Lake’s Election Challenge Could Make Her a MAGA Megastar

Most of Donald Trump’s election-denying candidates exited quietly after their midterm losses, conceding—albeit begrudgingly, in some cases—where their leader wouldn’t. Not Kari Lake. The Arizona Republican has not only declined to acknowledge her gubernatorial defeat against Democrat Katie Hobbs earlier this week but is spreading dangerous lies to sow doubt in the democratic process as she mounts an official challenge to the results.

“Our election officials failed us miserably,” Lake said in a video posted to social media Thursday, claiming she has assembled “the best and brightest legal team” to investigate her allegations of voter fraud. “My resolve to fight for you is higher than ever.”

Lake has been priming her base for such a fight since before the election, making clear that she’d only accept the results if she won. Now, she’s insisting that her voters were “disenfranchised” because of long lines at polling locations and technical issues with tabulation machines, which she and other right-wing leaders, including Trump, have spread conspiracy theories about. “What happened to Arizonans on Election Day is unforgivable,” Lake said in her video Thursday.

But while there were long lines at some polling places and printer problems at 70 precincts, officials have said that voters could go to any polling place in the state, many of which had no lines at all, and a judge has ruled that there was no evidence Arizona voters were disenfranchised. Meanwhile, officials have suggested that the conspiracy theories spread by prominent conservatives may have actually made things worse: As officials worked to resolve technical issues with some tabulation machines in Maricopa County, election workers encouraged voters to place their ballots in a secure storage compartment called “Box 3,” where they would be processed later by more sophisticated machines at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center. But high-profile figures on the right suggested, without evidence, that Box 3 could not be trusted and discouraged its use. “Do not trust them,” the conservative activist Charlie Kirk warned.

Both Lake and Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward also dissuaded voters from using Box 3, though Lake’s campaign lawyer insisted it was safe. Ultimately, the mixed messaging risked turning off Lake’s own voters and exacerbated wait times, according to Republican Bill Gates, the chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “This team, we have accepted our responsibility in this,” Gates said Monday, according to the Associated Press. “But I’m not willing to accept responsibility for issues that were caused by others. And it is clear to me that those lines were longer because leaders in one political party were spreading misinformation.”

Lake’s claim that the results were “BS” is, well, BS. But it has nonetheless affirmed her status as a rising star in MAGA world. She was already a Trump favorite as one of the leading proponents of his lies about the 2020 election. And this week, Lake boosted her standing by giving the president her “complete and total endorsement” in his 2024 White House run, and not to mention, by traveling to Mar-a-Lago, where she reportedly received a standing ovation at an America First Policy Institute lunch. It’s highly unlikely that she or Arizona’s election-denying secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, who has also yet to concede, will actually succeed in overturning the results. But she could succeed in making herself a MAGA martyr of sorts and further cement herself as a more permanent fixture of Trumpworld.