Kari Lake Shakes Up McCain Republicans, Seeks Meeting to Bridge Divides

Kari Lake Shakes Up McCain Republicans, Seeks Meeting to Bridge Divides

Kari Lake, an Arizona Republican who previously ran for governor in 2022, has shifted her approach for her current Senate campaign. Instead of employing a fire-and-brimstone strategy, she is now focused on diplomacy and reaching out to Republicans she had attacked during her previous campaign. Lake’s efforts to mend relationships and repair the damage caused in 2022 could greatly impact her chances in the upcoming Senate race for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat.

One of Lake’s biggest attempts at reconciliation is with her former primary opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson. The two met in Phoenix in late October to discuss putting their differences behind them, and they agreed to stay in contact. While a person close to Lake described the conversation as “productive,” a person close to Robson called it “cordial.”

This shift in strategy marks a significant change from Lake’s aggressive tactics during the 2022 campaign. She had boasted about defeating the “McCain machine,” made controversial statements about special needs children, and even accused Robson of trying to buy the election with her husband’s money.

Lake’s efforts to repair relationships with fellow Republicans could weaken Sinema’s appeal with the more moderate wing of the party. Sinema, who has not yet decided whether she will run, has strong ties to centrist Republicans in Arizona, particularly those associated with the late Sen. John McCain. Lake’s senior adviser, Garrett Ventry, stated that Lake is willing to engage with anyone who wants to unite the party for Republican success in Arizona.

The “McCain Republicans” were at odds with Lake throughout her 2022 campaign, and they could pose a significant threat if Sinema enters the race. In a three-way contest with Sinema, Lake would need to consolidate as much GOP support as possible to secure a victory. Arizona’s Senate race is crucial for Republicans, who need to flip between one and two seats depending on the outcome of the White House race, to gain control of the chamber.

National Republicans, who initially had reservations about Lake’s candidacy, are now starting to embrace her, especially considering her likely primary win. However, it remains uncertain whether Lake’s efforts to woo moderate Republicans in Arizona will be successful. Some question whether traditional Reagan-McCain voters will trust the “new” Kari Lake, considering her past offensive remarks and pride in alienating that group of voters.

Additionally, Lake’s attempts at reconciliation could anger her fervently MAGA and anti-establishment base. Despite this risk, Lake has reached out to several Republicans in the state, including Kathy Petsas, a GOP activist, and former GOP Sen. Martha McSally, who previously ran against Sinema. Lake plans to continue her outreach efforts in the coming weeks.

However, Lake has not yet made contact with key figures in the Arizona GOP, such as former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Sharon Harper, a close associate of Cindy McCain who is fundraising for Sinema. Harper stated that she is focused on other matters at the moment and did not address the possibility of meeting with Lake.

Robson, an ally of Ducey and the wife of a real estate magnate, lost to Lake by 5 points in the 2022 primary. Lake subsequently lost to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs in the general election. Lake has also been working to consolidate Republican support in Washington, having been in contact with Senate Minority Whip John Thune and Sen. Steve Daines, who leads the Senate GOP campaign arm.

Senate Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. John Barrasso, have urged their colleagues to unite behind Lake. Republican Senate leaders have advised Lake to focus on the current election and avoid mentioning election fraud, a pivot she made during her campaign launch in October. Despite the support and praise she has garnered from some Republicans in Washington, winning over Arizona Republicans may prove to be more challenging.

In conclusion, Kari Lake’s decision to shift her campaign strategy to focus on diplomacy and repairing relationships with fellow Republicans could greatly impact her chances in the upcoming Senate race. Whether she can win over moderate Republicans and consolidate GOP support will be crucial in determining her success, particularly if Sen. Kyrsten Sinema enters the race. The outcome of the Arizona Senate race could have significant implications for the balance of power in the Senate.