republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Sunday blasted Kari Lake, an outspoken ex-local journalist who is running to take his seat with him donald trump‘s blessing, the latest crack in a widening inter-GOP divide.
He mocked her as “Fake Lake” for expressing doubts about the 2020 presidential race.
It comes after Ducey engaged in a proxy fight with Trump for the Arizona GOP by supporting Lake’s opponent, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, as governor in the August 2 primary.
“I think Karrin Taylor Robson is going to be the best person to be a fresh new leader for Arizona State,” Ducey said CNN‘s State of the Union.
“Her opponent, on the other hand, bears no resemblance — her campaign, or even her personal interactions with me — to anything she’s done in the last 30 years. It’s all an act. She’s been doing a show for a while. And we’ll see if Arizona voters buy it.’
The limited interview with the governor, in which he also refused to commit to supporting Trump in 2024, is just the latest example of a Republican party struggling to define its identity.
Allies of the ex-president continue to insist that the last election be brought back to court, while Ducey and other members of the GOP warn such complaints would only alienate voters.
Ducey caught Trump’s wrath after refusing to overturn his state’s presidential results when Arizona narrowly went to President Joe Biden in November 2020.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has been targeted by Trump for refusing to overturn his state’s 2020 presidential election results
Although he has so far refrained from attacking the former president over his campaign lies, Ducey on Sunday slammed Lake for helping to promote them.
“Kari Lake is misleading voters without evidence,” he charged.
“She was nicknamed by her opponents, Fake Lake, which seems to stick and actually does damage.”
In another shot at the former local news anchor, Ducey insisted that Arizonans would be “better served” by a governor who promotes Republican values going forward than someone looking back on 2020.
“I think the people of any state would be better served if a governor believes in the people, who believes small businesses should be allowed and who believes kids should be in the classrooms,” he said.
Ducey told CNN’s State of the Union that he hoped he had “options” in 2024, but didn’t rule out fully supporting Trump
“I also think this election should be about the future. I don’t think we should think about 2020 for a moment. This is about the 2022 election cycle.”
As head of the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA), however, Ducey was reluctant to write off a future Lake endorsement if she wins her primary and advances to the midterms in November — despite hinting that it would be a “lost cause.”
“All roles after August 2nd need to be determined. Now the Republican Governors Association is busy electing Republican governors. And we happen to be very good at it,” he said.
“We’re on the offensive. But we don’t support hopeless cases. We certainly do not support landslides. We go to states where the racing is competitive and we get the good candidate across the finish line.’
This reflects a broader concern among mainstream Republicans who fear they could give Democrats easy victories by allowing extremist or fringe Trump-backed candidates to advance to November’s general races.
However, he declined to name which other Trump-backed candidates would be “lost cases” and which the RGA could support.
“November 8 is a long way away. So let’s look at this map. We’re going to look at the resources we have. And we don’t know what September and October will bring,” Ducey said.
When asked if he would back Trump in the following election cycle, the governor was noticeably hesitant — but unwilling to commit to completely closing the door on the ex-president.
“I think we will have options in the main race in 2024. I’m confident we will have options,” said Ducey.
He also left the door open to the Republican Governors Association, which will support Trump-backed Kari Lake (pictured) if she wins the Arizona gubernatorial primary, though he hinted it could be a “losing cause.”
“And I want someone who can win this general election because I believe the general election with success in 2022 belongs to the Republican Party.”
For his part, Trump has come closer to formally deciding whether to run for the White House a third time after dropping numerous references over the past year.
The former president said he had already made that decision in an interview with The New Yorker published Thursday.
Trump added he wasn’t sure whether to announce “before or after” the midterm elections.
In her own race, the Trump-backed Lake has seen her lead in the polls shrink in recent months while Robson gained ground.
According to a Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights poll released earlier this month, Lake has the support of 40 percent of Arizona Republican voters.
Robson follows with 35 percent support while the remaining two candidates fail to break even at 5 percent.
Twenty-one percent of Arizona Republicans said they are undecided — potentially a crucial number at the August ballot box.