Lake is vying for the seat held by independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who shed her Democratic Party affiliation in December and has not yet said whether she will seek a second term. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is also a candidate in what could become an unpredictable, three-way race.
“I am not going to retreat. I’m gonna stand on top of this hill with every single one of you, and I know you’re by my side as I formally announce my candidacy for the United States Senate,” Lake told a crowd of supporters.
Midway through her speech, Lake tossed to a pre-taped video of Trump, who said she had his endorsement.
A former Arizona television journalist, Lake has built her political image – and her 2022 campaign for governor – around her support for Trump’s false claims about extensive election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. She has become a fixture in the former president’s orbit since losing her gubernatorial bid.
She has also claimed, without evidence, that she won her election last fall against Democrat Katie Hobbs, the state’s current governor. Lake has lost a series of legal battles seeking to overturn the result of that contest, which she lost by more than 17,000 votes.
Lake had already filed paperwork to enter the Senate race before officially announcing her campaign Tuesday in Scottsdale. Last week, she met with several GOP senators in Washington, a source familiar with the meetings said, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
“We have had productive conversations with Kari Lake and her team. She is a talented campaigner with an impressive ability to fire up the grassroots. We have a clear path to victory with two Democrats on the ballot in Arizona,” Montana Sen. Steve Daines, the chairman of the Senate GOP campaign arm, said in a statement.
Arizona has long been a Republican stronghold, but President Joe Biden narrowly carried the state in 2020, and Democrats have won the last three US Senate elections there. The state GOP is also reeling after losing key statewide races in November, including the key offices of governor and secretary of state.
Election deniers like Lake who have parroted Trump’s election lies have largely taken command of the GOP in Arizona, with several Trump-aligned candidates defeating more establishment contenders in recent primaries before losing general elections. Republicans, though, still control most statewide executive offices and the state legislature.
Sinema, who continues to caucus with Senate Democrats, has faced criticism from her onetime party colleagues over her refusal to support elements of Biden’s agenda.
Gallego, a Phoenix-area congressman and retired Marine who served in Iraq, launched his campaign in January with a video announcement: “The rich and the powerful, they don’t need more advocates. It’s the people that are still trying to decide between groceries and utilities that need a fighter for them.”
Gallego recently reported raising $3 million over a three-month fundraising period that ended September 30, finishing the third quarter with more than $5 million in the bank. Sinema’s campaign said it closed the quarter with $10.8 million on hand – but that was roughly the same as her cash balance at the end of June.
Lake will not have the Senate GOP primary to herself. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, another promoter of Trump’s election lies, entered the Republican contest in April.