PHOENIX — Of all the Republican candidates running for governor, Kari Lake is the only one who doesn’t have any previous political experience.
Still, when an OH Predictive Insights Poll says 85% of Republicans know Lake and 60% of them have a favorable view of her, you can’t blame the candidate if she questioned the need for experience.
Arizona’s primary is still a year away. But with numbers like the ones Lake has, it's hard not to call her a front-runner.
Any doubt was put to rest on July 24, when former President Donald Trump came to Phoenix.
When he mentioned Lake’s name among the list of Republican candidates who attended, the crowd erupted. The roar so loud it impressed the former President, who said, “Wow…This could be a big night for you."
Now Kari Lake is off and running to be Arizona’s next governor.
She may have the name recognition, but she is leaving nothing to chance.
During the first week of August, Lake crisscrossed the state, sometimes making five appearances in a day.
We caught up with her in Pine, where her campaign capped off the week with a barbeque meet-and-greet. Watch our complete interview in the player below.
“I think Donald Trump struck a chord in me and millions of other Americans,” Lake said. "You don’t need to be a politician to be a governor, a president, a senator, a congressman, a school board member. You need to have passion and love for your country and your community."
With every handshake, smile, and photo, Lake is cementing her place among Arizona’s most conservative voters, people who are suspicious of government in general and Democrats in particular. Lake says she doesn’t want Arizona to become California 2.0.
“I’ve watched the state change and gotten to cover the issues for so long, and covered politicians for so many years, when they say one thing and do another thing,” Lake said. “They get into office and they bring all their political favors that they owe on day one, put people into all the key positions. It’s been disappointing."
Like Trump, Lake is not afraid to step on toes.
During our nearly-20-minute conversation, she spoke on a number of topics like affordable housing.
Arizona finds itself in a housing crisis now, with skyrocketing home prices and rents. Experts believe it could be worse in 18 months.
“Part of the problem with our housing situation is having put growth ahead of smart growth -- growth at any cost,” Lake said. “Open up a new plant, open up a business and give them tax breaks that you don’t offer Arizona businesses. They bring in 500 people from California and they all need homes. If you are going to give tax breaks to a business, how about you say, you got to hire Arizonans who are already living here.”
It’s a message that is starting to connect with Arizonans.
“People are fleeing cities and coming up to these small communities like Pine, Payson, and Prescott, and the Californians are coming in and driving them out of the market, the people who are local, out of the market. We have to build more houses,” Lake said.
On dealing with the state’s water crisis, Lake says she will convene a panel of experts to come up with solutions; water desalinization, a pipeline from Mexico are options she would consider. But she knows most options will be long-term and expensive.
On the issue of the day, how should the state respond to COVID-19, Lake is firm.
She will not tolerate mask mandates, no mandatory vaccinations, and no vaccination passports.
“People are tired of it. They are not going to mask their children, they’re not going to torture themselves again. They’re tired of it. We don’t need to do this for a virus. And we’re not believing everything the media says, Dr. Fauci says.”
At the Pine rally, Lake told supporters she would pardon everyone if they were fined for refusing to adhere to mask mandates. She received a standing ovation.