The top Arizona Republican once criticized the GOP gubernatorial nominee for 'putting on an act' and lying about election integrity.
In a total reversal, Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey threw his support behind Kari Lake, the right-wing extremist candidate he once called "fake."
In a series of tweets, Ducey said that Arizona Republicans must "unite behind our slate of candidates" in order to "ensure Arizona remains a beacon of freedom and prosperity." That slate of candidates includes multiple conspiracy theorists like Lake and Mark Finchem, who have pushed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, among other baseless conspiracy theories.
"As co-chairman of the Republican Governors Association, our organization is already active on the airwaves supporting Kari Lake's candidacy. Congratulations to Kari on a hard-fought victory and to all the candidates who will be carrying the GOP banner in November," Ducey tweeted on Saturday.
Ducey's endorsement came one day after the Associated Press called the Arizona Republican gubernatorial primary for Lake, a former newscaster endorsed by Trump. Lake defeated Ducey's pick, businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, in the Republican primary race.
In late July, Ducey went on CNN to warn that Lake's election denialism, which she has made a defining issue of her campaign, is a liability.
"Kari Lake is misleading voters with no evidence," Ducey said on CNN's State of the Union. "She's been tagged by her opponents with a nickname, Fake Lake, which seems to be sticking and actually doing some damage."
Ducey added that Lake's persona as a diehard Trump supporter is "all an act."
His reversal is in stark contrast to fellow Gov. Larry Hogan, the Maryland Republican who said he will not vote for Dan Cox, his party's gubernatorial nominee, in November. Trump has endorsed Cox, another prominent election denier.
"I would not support the guy," Hogan said of Cox. "I wouldn't let him in the governor's office, let alone work for the governor's office."
In Arizona, Republicans had long feared that Lake would imperil their chances at holding onto the governorship. She has pushed lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, saying that President Joe Biden's victory in the state never should have been certified.
Lake has vowed to jail her Democratic opponent, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, for her administration of the elections. And she even declared the primary contest she just won as being rife with fraud — a claim she made ahead of any votes being counted and without providing a lick of evidence.
During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, Lake declared that her campaign "drove a stake through the heart of the McCain Machine" — an attack on the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whom voters in the state elected by wide margins for decades.
"Helluva strategy to win over the majority voting block of Arizona independents in a general election," McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, sarcastically tweeted. "I know she thinks she's governor already but you have to win over more people than just CPAC maga Neanderthals to actually win a general."
Ducey himself is facing backlash from Arizonans and Republicans for pulling a 180 and backing Lake's bid.
Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Trump aide who has criticized the former president for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, criticized Ducey.
"As many as 60% of GOP voters believe the Election was stolen. That's not true. But it continues to spread like a disease within the Party because people who know better are standing by people who spread the lie," she tweeted in reference to Ducey's endorsement.
Arizona Republic columnist Ed Montini said Ducey has a "backbone like a wet noodle" for supporting Lake.
"So, Republicans in Arizona are supposed to unite behind a person Ducey labeled a 'fake' who is 'misleading voters' and putting on an 'act'?" Montini wrote in an op-ed. "If Ducey believes that, then in the worst possible way he is putting his political party above his state. And if he doesn't believe it, but is saying so anyway, it's even worse."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.