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Trump ally Kari Lake wins GOP nomination for Arizona governor

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Former TV news anchor Kari Lake has increased her lead in the Republican gubernatorial primary, putting her beyond the reach of business owner Karrin Taylor Robson.

New figures released Thursday evening show Lake with 336,153 votes compared to 316,512 for Taylor Robson. That compares with Lake’s 12,000-vote lead 24 hours earlier.

It also puts her margin at nearly 3% — an edge that the Washington Post and the Associated Press also concluded Thursday evening was enough to call the race for Lake. 

That sets the stage for Lake to take on Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in November.

There was no immediate response from Robson’s campaign to the latest numbers.

Lake had already proclaimed herself the victor at a press conference Wednesday, even as her lead at the time was only about 10,000 votes.

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She said — and it proved true — that her backers were less likely to have voted early, especially after Lake and former President Donald Trump, who endorsed her, made unsubstantiated claims about how early votes could be manipulated. The result was that the Election Night returns, which contained only the votes of those who put their ballots in the mail, favored Robson.

That lead shrank and then evaporated as counties began counting the ballots that were cast at the polls.

The latest numbers back that trend up, with Lake tallying 55,000 more votes cast at polling places than Robson. That was more than enough to trump Robson’s 34,330-vote edge in early ballots.

There are still votes being counted. Counties also have been tallying the votes of people who got ballots by mail but chose to turn them in on Election Day, a process that takes longer because of the need to verify them. And after that they have to input provisional ballots, cast by people who showed up at the polls but whose registrations could not be immediately confirmed.

Maricopa County alone reported it still has about 96,600 ballots to be processed and tabulated. Most of those fit into the category of the 122,000 residents who turned in their early ballots on Tuesday.

There also are about 9,100 “uncured” ballots. These are early ballots where the signature on the envelope does not match what the county has on file.

In her Wednesday victory declaration, Lake said she would welcome Robson’s support as well as that of former Congressman Matt Salmon.

Salmon had also made a bid for governor but dropped out before the ballots were printed, throwing his support behind Robson. Still, the latest tally shows that nearly 28,000 people marked their ballots for him.

The Republican Governors Association congratulated Lake Thursday night on what it also called her victory. “From tackling Biden’s border crisis, to standing up for law enforcement, or keeping Arizona’s economy growing, Kari is ready to fight for Arizona,” the group said in a written statement, adding: “In contrast, Katie Hobbs is nothing more than a radical far-left politician whose open borders, anti-law enforcement views are completely out of step with mainstream Arizona.”

Hobbs, meanwhile, said she is ready to take on Lake, calling her “dangerous for Arizona.”

“Throughout her campaign, Lake has counted Nazi sympathizers and far-right extremists as part of her coalition,” Hobbs said in a prepared statement. “We know where she stands on the issues that matter most, vowing to ban abortion and reproductive health care, putting cameras in our children’s classrooms, and wasting taxpayer money relitigating the 2020 election and manipulating future elections if she doesn’t like the results.”

Much of Lake’s campaign was focused not so much on current issues as her belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump despite official tallies showing that Joe Biden outpolled him in Arizona by 10,457 votes.

Lake, who was an anchor on the Phoenix Fox affiliate for two decades, also contends the election system in Arizona is beset by fraud. She also claimed evidence of fraud in her own primary fight but refused to provide any evidence.

She is the plaintiff in a federal court lawsuit that asks a judge to block the use of machines to tabulate votes. No date has been set for a hearing.