early and often

Kari Lake Turns Down Vice-Presidency Before Being Elected to Anything

Can this match made in MAGA heaven be denied? Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

One of the most remarked-upon phenomena of the 2022 election cycle has been the rise of first-time candidate and now–Republican gubernatorial nominee in Arizona Kari Lake. At first, Lake looked like a MAGA fringe candidate espousing the most extreme kind of 2020 election denialism; Arizona Democrats did what they could to back her against presumably more electable opponents like wealthy GOP Establishment figure Karrin Taylor Robson. But now, the exceptionally camera-ready, longtime anchor of a local Fox affiliate in Phoenix is the smart-money favorite to defeat Democratic secretary of State Katie Hobbs and become one of America’s highest-profile governors.

There’s no question Donald Trump, who endorsed Lake back in September 2021, is especially fond of this Arizona protégé, as Politico noted in August:

Trump, aides say, has delighted in watching Lake’s rise, seeing echoes of his own. A former TV news anchor-turned-right-wing gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, she, like him, has delighted in sparring with the media and made repeated falsehoods about the 2020 election the centerpiece of her campaign.

The 45th president’s obvious fondness for Lake has naturally led to talk of how they might be a good team down the road, particularly with there being an opening for the role of Trump’s running mate in 2024 thanks to Mike Pence’s unforgivable stab in the back on January 6. Lake certainly has more charm and natural political talent than the grim protofascist from the other end of the Sunbelt, Ron DeSantis, who has clearly annoyed Trump by becoming preferred to the ex-president by a lot of MAGA and Establishment insiders. National Review editor Rick Lowry flatly predicted Lake would be “Trump’s Sarah Palin” in 2024.

Lake astutely understood that this sort of national speculation might not be the best closing argument for a gubernatorial candidacy that is nowhere close to being a slam dunk (her lead over Hobbs in the RealClearPolitics polling averages is a mere 1.6 percent). So she is tamping down the veep talk, but she may have done so in a way that simply undermines her presumptuousness, as the Washington Examiner reports:

Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said Sunday she plans to spend the next eight years as the state’s governor, dismissing growing speculation that she might be picked to be former President Donald Trump’s 2024 running mate if he runs again.

When asked by Jon Karl, the host of ABC’s This Week, if she would commit to serving all four years as governor if elected next month, Lake responded, “I’m going to serve eight years as governor of Arizona.”

So even as she turned down a future position that she may or may not have been offered, she announced a reelection campaign before being elected to anything.

All candidates try to project confidence, and part of being a MAGA candidate is pretending victory is absolutely certain; Lake has, after all, refused to promise she will accept defeat, just like Trump. But persuadable voters in Arizona might resent being denied the final say over the identity of their governor, not only in 2022 but apparently in 2026. It wasn’t a very smooth move for the usually smooth operator Kari Lake.

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Kari Lake Declines Veep Job Before Being Elected to Anything