Kari Lake, a 2020 election denier who was backed by former President Donald Trump, has won the Republican primary for governor in Arizona, beating Karrin Taylor Robson, a candidate endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence, NBC News projects.
Lake’s victory, coupled with primary wins in the state for two other election deniers, Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, and Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for state attorney general, means Arizona could have election deniers in place in the top positions overseeing elections and certifying and defending results in the important swing state.
Lake had 46.8 percent of the vote on Thursday night, to Taylor Robson’s 44 percent, with 90 percent of the expected vote counted.
In a statement Thursday night, Lake said the election results “took longer than they should have,” while adding that Arizonans who had been “forgotten by the establishment just delivered a political earthquake” in naming her the Republican nominee.
Lake initially declared victory Tuesday night when she was trailing Taylor Robson, a real estate developer backed by both Pence and term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Down by 7 percentage points at the time, Lake went on stage Tuesday evening and declared, “We won,” adding, “There is no path to victory for my opponent, and we won this race — period.”
About two hours later, as she began to move ahead of Taylor Robson, Lake returned to the stage to declare victory again.
“God placed us here for a reason,” Lake said. “The very same God who parted the Red Sea, the very same God who moved mountains is with us right now as we take back our country and save this republic.”
“Let’s order some pizzas and party!” she concluded.
Lake, a longtime local news anchor supported by Trump and a number of his allies, had previously suggested she wouldn’t accept the results of her election if she lost and that the race had already been tainted by fraud and irregularities.
Lake, Finchem and Hamadeh have all called for the decertification of the 2020 election.
The race was close: As of 12: 05 p.m. ET Wednesday, Lake led Taylor Robson by fewer than 2 percentage points with nearly 80% of the expected vote counted.
Lake will now face Katie Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state who clinched the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.
Hobbs told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday that it was “concerning” that her Republican rivals are pushing false claims about election fraud in the key swing state, which Joe Biden won in 2020 by a margin of just over 10,000 votes.
“It’s not a surprise that they’re calling out false allegations about fraud already about this election, but it is really concerning,” Hobbs said. “Trump is working to insert himself into all of these elections so that he can install leaders over the rules, to change the rules and to oversee certification in future elections so that they could potentially overturn the will of the voters if they don’t like the outcome.”
Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.