Kari Lake’s 27 years as a TV news reporter and former President Donald Trump’s backing helped her win the Republican primary for Arizona governor.
Despite being outspent 18 to 1, Lake defeated Richmond entrepreneur Karrin Taylor Robson 47.9% to 43.2% in the Arizona Republican gubernatorial primary. Lake spent approximately $827,000 on broadcast, while Taylor Robson spent nearly $15.3 million on campaign advertising, according to the most recent available figures. On the topic of overall expenditures, Lake was also thoroughly beaten by Taylor Robson, who spent only $3.6 million while Lake spent $18.4 million.
Barrett Marson, a Republican strategist in Phoenix, said on Wednesday that Kari Lake had numerous advantages over the competition. “I don’t think any amount of ground game, any amount of money, or any substantial policy differences could have stopped a Trump-backed media star.“
Still not sick of WINNING! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/VsaLXQXXJu
— Kari Lake for AZ Governor (@KariLake) August 10, 2022
Marson is a friend of term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who backed Taylor Robson. Marson also backed former Republican Rep. Matt Salmon, who ended his campaign for governor before the Aug. 2 primary. Marson isn’t the only Republican to think finding holes in Taylor Robson’s campaign now is easier than it would have been before.
Other GOP insiders, however, are complaining that Taylor Robson’s campaign was poorly managed, especially those who are concerned that Lake would cause the party to lose control of the governor’s house in the next midterm elections. Since Arizona is a swing state, Lake’s backing for Trump’s stolen election allegations might hurt her there.
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Doug Goodyear, a Republican operative for DCI Group and a longtime Ducey acquaintance, and Jon Seaton, a GOP strategist, have been the focus of the criticism directed at Taylor Robson advisers. After outspending Lake by a massive $14.4 million, some of its Republican detractors claim that something must have gone wrong with their advertising campaign.
Some complaints were general, while others were very specific.
“It was her campaign to lose after Matt Salmon dropped out, and she lost it,” a Republican analyst in Arizona said. “There is always the balance of strong ads that get to millions of people and the echo chamber that they hear … at the grassroots level. You had none of that with Karrin.“
A Republican insider said, “They had zero ground strategy,” comparing Taylor Robson’s campaign to the successful ones of former Republican senators Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch. The two senators with the most combined election victories are Jon Kyl and John McCain. This Republican, like other GOP critics of Taylor Robson’s campaign, has asked to remain anonymous in order to speak frankly. When asked for a response via email, Goodyear did not provide any comment.
However, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, Seaton dismissed the allegations as unfounded.
According to Seaton, the Taylor Robson field operation is a strong one. More than 150,000 houses were visited, 225,000 Republican primary voters were called, and dozens of rodeos, parades, and party meetings were attended by campaign volunteers. Given the unusual nature of this campaign, Seaton stressed that Taylor Robson had almost no name recognition, to begin with.
Both Lake and Taylor Robson were political newcomers when they ran for office. Nonetheless, Seaton said that Lake benefited from incumbency because of Trump’s support and her widespread recognition as a result of her decades-long tenure as a TV news anchor in Phoenix, the region’s leading media market. Despite losing to Lake by 4.7 percentage points, Seaton said he was pleased with Taylor Robson and the campaign she waged.
“We needed to increase Karrin’s name ID from minimal to competitive and had very little time to do it. The only way to do that is spending money on television to tell her story; that’s a decision we made as a team,” Seaton said. “You never want to fall short. But she did a good job of introducing herself to voters, and they clearly liked what she had to say.“
In the general election, Lake is running against Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D).