Arizonans Trusted Kari Lake to Tell It Straight on TV. Will They Trust Her as Governor?

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PHOENIX — Kari Lake worked her way through television interviews at her election night party, fielding a barrage of questions about her bid to be Arizona’s next governor. Votes were still being counted, and she’d been up all night. But Ms. Lake, a first-time candidate, didn’t flinch.

Instead, she grabbed a reporter’s microphone, locked eyes with the camera and delivered her campaign message as seamlessly and authoritatively as if she were reporting from behind the local anchor desk she left just last year.

Ms. Lake is among a crop of hard-right Republican candidates winning primaries this year with a potent mix of election lies and cultural grievances. But her polished delivery and ruthless instincts, both honed through decades in TV news, have landed her in a category all her own.

The 52-year-old former journalist has drawn on a reservoir of credibility and familiarity to turn former viewers into voters. Donald J. Trump has praised her camera-ready discipline, privately telling other candidates to be more like Ms. Lake. Her say-anything bravado has won cheers from a base eager to stick it to the state’s old guard. Her lack of experience with policy and her fixation on fictions about the 2020 election have left the establishment white-knuckled, bracing for how she might wield power.

Some Republicans have discussed her as a potential vice-presidential contender if Mr. Trump runs again in 2024. National Republican groups are planning to pour millions into her race to help keep the party in control of a key political battleground.

“I am beloved by people, and I’m not saying that to be boastful,” Ms. Lake said in an interview last week at her campaign headquarters.

“I was in their homes for the good times and the bad times,” she added. “We’ve been together on the worst of days, and we’ve been together on the best of days.”

By Michael C. Bender

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