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Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake talks big issues and election night

Lake talked abortion, water, border issues, fentanyl and more
Kari Lake
Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 17, 2022

PHOENIX — After more than a year of listening to speeches and tolerating a blitzkrieg of television ads and social media posts, it's time for Arizona voters to have their say.

Election Day is nearly upon us and 1.9 million voters in Maricopa County have received their early ballots. Hundreds more have already gone to early voting sites to cast their votes.

Earlier this month, Republican candidate for Governor Kari Lake sat down for what turned out to be a 30-minute interview. Lake answered questions submitted by ABC15 viewers. She also offered some insights about the type of people she wants in her administration if elected.

The border

Kari Lake has been talking tough about the border since the first day she announced her campaign for Governor.

"I will issue a declaration of invasion on day one. Hour one. First thing we’re going to do. And we’re going to send the National Guard. We’re going to send other resources. State resources down to key areas along the border where people are coming in," Lake said.

Lake's border policy is based on an untested legal strategy invoking Article One Section 10 Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution which reads: "No State shall, without Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay."

In Lake's view, the number of migrants and illegal drugs entering the U.S. along the Arizona border is an invasion and will allow her to take the action. It includes using the National Guard, to stop migrants from entering the U.S.

"People pouring into this country. We can't handle this anymore. And we won't handle it anymore. We're not going to take on the world's problems," Lake said.

Fentanyl

As governor, Lake says she will state resources to take on the drug cartels. On the campaign trail and in our interview, she says "we lost more than 4,000 Arizonans in the last couple of years to fentanyl poisoning." The number would seem high. But opioid deaths in Arizona are significant. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,550 Arizonans died from drug overdoses in Arizona from 2020 through 2021. The Arizona Department of Health Services reports, in the first four months of 2022, 372 people died from opioid overdoses.

"We have more fentanyl pouring in this country than we've ever seen before," Lake said, "Arizona is becoming known as the fentanyl pipeline that is fueling an epidemic across this country."

Abortion

Currently, Arizona is in a legal fight over which abortion law the state will enforce. The 15-week ban passed by the legislature and signed by the governor earlier this year is currently the law in Arizona. But an appeals court will decide if a pre-Roe law which bans all abortions except when a mother's life is at risk should supersede the 15-week ban.

"I'm pro-woman, and I want to make sure that women have healthcare. I want to make sure women have access to birth control and I want to make sure women are treated with respect," Lake said.

Lake prefers a decision on the state's abortion law be reached before the next governor is sworn in.

"My stance is that I'm pro-life and I want to save as many babies as possible," she said. "You and I are old enough to remember this, Mark, when Roe v. Wade came about and the years that followed, abortion was to be rare but safe. Rare but legal and it's become anything but that."

Lake has not committed to calling a special session to decide what abortion law should be enforced if she is elected. Governor Ducey has indicated he will not get involved and will leave the matter to the courts.

Economy and inflation

Inflation is 13% in Phoenix. The highest in the U.S.

Kari Lake has a plan to fight it by cutting taxes.

"The things that are affecting people right now are the ability to pay for groceries, the ability to pay rent. So, I want to work with lawmakers in the legislature to get rid of the food tax," Lake said, "and I want to get rid of the rent tax. We need a shelter over our head and we shouldn't have to pay taxes on renting an apartment or a home to house our families."

Three of Arizona's largest cities, Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa, do not have a food tax. According to the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, the taxes combined accounted for $340 million in 2021. Phoenix collected $83 million in rental taxes in 2021.

Mayor Kate Gallego said most of the money goes to fund public safety and city parks. The impact of the tax cuts in rural communities could be severe. In many cases, those taxes help finance city services like police and fire. Rural communities don't have the retail tax base or property tax revenues that help support larger cities. Lake says the state will be able to pull from its surplus to help communities offset eliminating the taxes.

Sam Stone, a Lake policy advisor, estimates the budget surplus for the 2023 fiscal year to be $5 billion. But the Joint Legislative Budget Committee says the number is closer to $2.1 billion.

Lake also proposes working with cities to help solve the housing crisis which she says is one of the biggest causes of inflation in Arizona.

"We're not asking them to change up their zoning and all of that. All we are doing is asking them to speed it up. Time is money. We have homebuilders trying to get shovels in the ground. We have people who need housing and we're going to cut some of this red tape."

Homelessness

Kari Lake believes her homeless plan will get people off the street one way or another.

"We want to get people help but we also need to start having compassion for the hard-working taxpaying citizens of Arizona. They want their streets back. They want to be able to take their children to a park without having to be accosted by somebody on drugs, stepping on used needles," Lake said.

Lake wants to target who she says are the chronically homeless.

"People who are living in tent, we're going to help. Build shelter beds to get them off the streets. Give them access and encourage them with tough love to get into treatment to get off drugs. Get them job training and have them become citizens who are contributing to society."

While she is willing to invest state dollars, Lake said there are limits.

"We're not going to pour any more state resources into any program that isn't showing results."

Lake points to the Opportunity Center in Tucson as a success story worth duplicating. It combines the efforts of the Gospel Rescue Mission, El Rio Community Health Center, La Frontera Arizona, Arizona Department of Economic Security, and 30 other nonprofits to provide on-site services for the homeless.

"It sounds impossible, it's not," Lake said of her plan.

Water

Kari Lake says securing more water resources for Arizona will be a major priority.

"We can't conserve our way out of this drought," she says.

Piping water into Arizona and building desalinization plants, explorational drilling in Yuma County with hopes it will access water from the Sea of Cortez are all on her list of potential options.

"Every option is on the table because Arizona is growing. We need more water."

Solving the water crisis may be the Arizona equivalent of landing on the moon. You get the sense that's how Lake looks at it.

"We've got to start doing big things," she said. "Where are those who came before us, the ones who built the Hoover Dam, the ones who brought us the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, where are they? We've got to stop thinking small, and I'm happy to spearhead that."

Will you accept the results of the election?

During the Republican Primary race for governor, Lake said on at least one occasion she was "already detecting some stealing going on." The claim of fraud came without any evidence. Since then, there have been no more claims of attempts at voter fraud or stealing an election. This brings us to the question of whether Lake will accept the outcome on November 8th.

"We're going to win on election night and we will accept that result, yeah, thank you," she said. Lake did not mention what she'll do if she doesn't win.

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