Kari Lake lost the Arizona gubernatorial election by 17,000 votes, or 0.6%. It was not a landslide defeat, but it was still a defeat. Lake and her MAGA allies are now split on what they should do next. Fundamentally, she has two choices:
The first is the American way. The second is the MAGA way. Time to make a choice.
Several important Arizona politicians are urging her to pick option 1. Former Arizona governor Jan Brewer, a conservative Republican, said: "Kari Lake has lost the race, in my opinion. There is no way for her to have a pathway. If I was in that position, I would probably concede." Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) called Hobbs to congratulate her.
If Lake were to go for option 2, it would make many of her supporters happy. They believe that if a Democrat wins, it must be by cheating, since "the people" all support Donald Trump and his chosen candidates. Lake could go to court, but it is hard to see what her case would be about. There were some minor problems in Maricopa County, but every eligible voter was able to cast a ballot in the end. It is very likely that since there is no evidence of any irregularities, almost any judge would throw out the case immediately.
One thing the Lake campaign is doing is collecting testimonials from voters. If a substantial number of people were to swear they weren't allowed to vote, Lake might at least be allowed to present her case. However, the voters would surely be required to swear under penalty of perjury that they were eligible voters and were forbidden from voting. If, upon investigation, they were not eligible voters or they did sign the book voters have to sign, they could go to prison. Once informed of that, some or all of them might just back down. Even if Lake could find 100 voters, that doesn't mean there were enough (17,000) to change the election result. Arguing "there were probably more" is unlikely to convince a judge. Basically, fighting in court is the 2020 Trump playbook. If Lake goes down that road, it will make her more popular with Trump's base but less popular with everyone else.
Trump appears to be goading Lake on to fight the results. He said that Democrats were trying to steal her win, just like they stole his in 2020. Steve Bannon has called on Arizona election officials not to certify the results. The person who has to certify them is the secretary of state, one Kathleen Marie Hobbs, who is probably not amenable to that idea. Is it legitimate for a secretary of state to certify an election in which the secretary is a candidate? Yes. Then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp certified his own election as governor in 2018. Republicans did not complain about this quirk of the system back then, and we have to assume that for consistency's sake, they surely would not complain now. Right?
Another problem for Lake if she contests the results is that the biggest voter getter on the ballot was state Treasurer Kimberly Yee (R), who was easily reelected. Apparently it wasn't so hard for people to vote for a Republican if they wanted to. (V)