Opinion: Democracy is Kari Lake’s real opponent in Arizona

Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow it @DanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this comment are his own. See more reviews on CNN.


Some have described Kari Lake as “Donald Trump in heels.” And like the twice impeached Republican president who accepted the nomination to be Arizona’s next governor, Lake, who is denying the election, poses a threat to our democratic republic if he wins.

Lake is one of more than 200 GOP candidates across the country who have denied the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump. But as FiveThirtyEight’s Kaleigh Rogers recently noted, “(F)ew has made fraudulent claims as central to his campaign as Lake.”

In a league of its own, according to the political website, “there are election deniers, and then there’s Kari Lake.”

Lake is not so much for the governor of Arizona as against American democracy. Speaking to CNN on Sunday, he would not commit to losing the election next month. Instead of calling politicians like him “election deniers,” he and others like him, especially if they win in November, could be called “democracy killers.” His series are lies about the 2020 presidential election district, from simple kisses to Trumps to the most outlandish recitations of dangerous nonsense.

On the campaign trail, Lake regularly says that Biden’s 2020 election victory was “corrupt and stolen.” He mocked how Biden had taken the lead in swing states after Trump had earlier addressed the overnight vote count, sarcastically saying, “It’s magic!” (Obviously, the results change as the votes are counted, as any long-time TV anchor probably well knows.)

Lake has promoted baseless conspiracy theories that software used by Dominion Voting Systems altered election results. In August 2021, he doubled down on his baseless assertion that Trump had won Arizona and that the official election results were “grossly wrong”.

At the first GOP debate in June, Lake claimed without evidence that 34,000 votes in Arizona were “counted two, three and four times” and, curiously, 200,000 votes were trafficked by “mules.” The conclusion, he absurdly said, was that Biden “lost the election and should not be in the White House.”

And in a foreshadowing of what we can expect on election night, Lake claimed in the run-up to the August primary that the vote was rigged, again without providing any evidence.

“We are already noticing that some thefts are happening,” he said. Hours before the polls closed, he repeated the false claim of electoral fraud. After emerging victorious, Lake changed his story slightly, telling reporters, “We voted for fraud.”

Lake only accepts consensual election results, and has said that if he had been governor in 2020, he would have refused to ensure Biden’s victory. Lake is basically telling anyone who will listen that he is willing to use the levers of government to subvert the will of the people.

Alarmingly, Lake has called for his Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs — Arizona’s secretary of state — to be jailed for unspecified alleged election crimes. It doesn’t matter that there is no evidence that Hobbs has committed a crime. Apparently, standing up for democracy is crime enough for Lake.

Lake also called for the jailing of journalists who he says have lied about the election. He opposes vaccination mandates, has demonized drag queens and declared at a conservative summit that women are inherently inferior. “God did not create us to be equal to men,” he said.

Perhaps most troubling is that despite all this, polls show Lake and his Democratic challenger Hobbs nearly tied with three weeks to go before Election Day.

Arizona voters have a clear choice between Hobbs, who fights for electoral integrity, and Lake, who his critics believe will thwart democracy if given half a chance.