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IN FOCUS - Feb 23, 2024

It would seem Kari Lake has it all in Arizona’s 2024 race for U.S. Senate: near universal name recognition, a cakewalk Primary and national fundraising base.


Just one problem. Public surveys - including two separate polls this week - continue to show her trailing Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego, who is running his first statewide campaign. The numbers suggest Lake is struggling to consolidate GOP and right-leaning independent voters, a bad omen as we approach campaign season.


An episode this week illustrates the challenges she faces.


At the urging of national handlers, Lake reportedly is attempting to pivot away from her 2022 insurgent persona to something of a kinder, softer Mama Bear. Less emphasis on alleged election fraud. More focus on kitchen table concerns like the economy, crime and fentanyl overdoses.


The rebrand has not gone altogether smoothly. During a radio interview on KTAR this week, Lake attempted to walk back her past criticism of Sen. John McCain - including in 2022 when she told McCain supporters to “get the hell out” of one of her campaign rallies. Lake now claims those comments were “said in jest.” Meghan McCain, in a KTAR interview of her own, responded by calling Lake “an absolute joke sham of a candidate.”


The war of words is indicative of Lake’s halting efforts to mend fences with moderate and traditional Republicans, including McCain supporters. Without them, the path to victory for Lake in a General Election is exceedingly narrow.


Her work is cut out for her, as a single tweet from Meghan McCain made clear.

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