Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks with voters hosted by the Scott County Republican Women of Iowa Feb. 10, 2023, at Tanglefoot Hills Pavilion in Bettendorf, Iowa. (Photo by Katherine Kealey for Iowa Capital Dispatch)
BETTENDORF, Iowa — Former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said her Iowa upbringing is one source of her fighter mentality, motivating her to challenge the results of the election that she lost in 2022 and potentially run for U.S. Senate next year.
Lake, a Republican, said some may assume she was visiting Iowa because she is running for president. The Iowa GOP caucuses will launch the 2024 presidential race. Instead, she said, she made the visit to see her home state and continue momentum as she appeals court rulings that upheld the 2022 election results.
Lake told an audience of Scott County Republicans in Bettendorf she plans to take her case to the Supreme Court. It wasn’t clear how that could happen, because her current state cases have been rejected by the Arizona Supreme Court and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“If we keep having an election stolen, it doesn’t matter how good the candidate is, doesn’t matter how good the policy is,” Lake said, to applause from a crowd of over 100 people. “Our movement in Arizona is so massive, and I don’t say ‘was’ because I think it’s even stronger today than it was on November 8.”
In November, Lake lost the race for governor of Arizona against Democrat Katie Hobbs. The former TV news anchor then filed a lawsuit in December, claiming there were votes illegally cast in the Nov. 8 election.
She lost that case, with the judge finding no evidence of election misconduct. The Arizona Supreme Court on Jan. 25 struck down Lake’s second request for the high court to take up her election appeal, the Arizona Mirror reported.
Lake encouraged voters in Iowa to question their elected officials on election security. Raised in Donahue, Iowa, Lake grew up among eight siblings and attended North Scott High School in Eldridge. Lake said Iowa has more secure elections than Arizona.
Iowans at the event agreed the Arizona governor election was not secure. Britney Goodding, from Eldridge, Iowa, said she has always been a fan of Lake because she is a strong voice, which is why it was devastating when she lost.
“There is too much evidence that I have personally researched and seen that is being depressed on our social media,” Goodding said. “It is sad that we have been silenced to fear talking about it… It is hard to be a voice for this movement.”
Not backing down and being a fighter are characteristics Lake said originate from her Iowa upbringing. Lake said it was her father, who was a football coach and government teacher at North Scott High School, who brought her up under this belief system.
“We start Iowa nice, right?” Lake said to a cheering crowd. “And then we start moving it up until we get to like the Iowa witch part, and I’m about to go Iowa witch on the media.”
Lake alleged over 300,000 “phony fake ballots” were tallied before Election Day, and two days after the election, another 25,000 more ballots with no chain of custody were added to the count. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website, Lake lost to her Democratic opponent by 0.7% of the vote.
Lake’s lawsuit against Maricopa County contained little evidence of wrongdoing and was based almost entirely on statements from poll workers and observers as well as partisan analyses, the Arizona Mirror reported. A Maricopa County judge dismissed Lake’s suit due to the lack of proof after a two-day trial.
While Maricopa County did see issues with tabulators reading ballots which resulted in longer lines, Lake has yet to supply proof that any ballot went uncounted, the Arizona Mirror reported.
Audience members at the Tanglefoot Hills Pavilion came not just from Iowa but also Illinois, Colorado, Arizona and more. David Grunkle and Angelo Williams currently live in Rochester, Minnesota, but they made the trip to Bettendorf after seeing Lake at a Turning Point USA event in Phoenix a few months ago.
Grunkle said he believes Lake’s race for governor appeared to have illegitimate voting but he is less convinced the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.
Lake, who received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, told the crowd she would also continue to fight for Trump to be reelected. Lake described herself as a citizen candidate. While running for governor, she was advised to avoid talking about topics such as COVID-19, masks and the 2020 elections.
“Well, those are the important issues right now,” Lake said. “Those are the issues we’ve got to talk about right now. So I just took all of those rules, I threw them in the circular file, and I set off to just talk to people, and we need that. We need some common sense. We need some Iowa common sense all over this country.”
Owen Hubbard, a 16-year-old student at Bettendorf High School, attended the Lake event because he said she is an electric speaker and he wanted to witness that in person. Hebbard said if Lake runs for Senate, she would have a strong chance, considering Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is now an independent, which could split the Democrat’s base.
“I think she’d be great in the U.S. Senate, and I really think that she would deliver Arizona a good Republican seat in the Senate,” Hubbard said.
Lake also spoke Friday about the opioid crisis and immigration. She attributed the rise in fentanyl deaths to Mexican drug cartels and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“If you don’t think that they (CCP) can destroy a society and a generation, then look back in history at the Opium Wars, they’re trying to inflict that kind of damage on America,” Lake said. “And we got to have political leaders who have the wherewithal to stand up and say ‘not on my watch,’ and that’s what I’m willing to do.”
Lake is also scheduled to appear at a meet-and-greet Saturday in Ankeny.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Owen Hubbard’s last name.
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