Who is the Real Kari Lake?

By Alexander Lomax

Photo Credit: AZ Central

Moderating one’s self is a time-honored tradition in politics; candidates will typically position themselves more towards a political wing in order to win a primary election, and then move towards the middle for the general election. But Kari Lake has routinely broken any normal conventions in her brief time in politics, and this is no different.

Lake never really moved towards the middle in the general election for Governor in 2022, and now in her Senatorial race she’s moving towards the middle…before the primary.

Yes, apparently she was just joking when she talked crap against John McCain. She is now against draconian anti-abortion laws and is pro-women’s health. And she doesn’t want to talk about stolen elections. It’s an all new Kari Lake!

But here’s the problem: she was so incredibly successful at getting attention and burning her brand into the brains of Arizona voters that she can’t just stop on a dime and have everyone forget the past. WalMart may want to try to cater to the wealthy with luxury goods, but no one is going to simply forget that they’re a discount retailer. It’s Marketing 101; brand pivots are possible, but not overnight and they are often embarrassingly unsuccessful.

What made her so unforgettable is now making her so unelectable, at least when it comes to the myriad moderates in the state.

Primary voters are often known for making bad choices vis a vis general election electability. What appeals to the core often turns off the masses. Her brand of politics was extremely engaging for a Republican base that has become the party of Trump. But in reality, Karrin Taylor-Robson would likely be Arizona Governor now if Republican primary voters chose pragmatism over purity and bombast.

Lake can try to pivot, and frankly, she should. She’s not running against Joe Biden; she will have at least one strong general election opponent, maybe two. But she can’t run away from her past, and if they value this one Senate seat (and of course they do, as the balance of the Senate may my at stake with this seat), Republican leadership and voters should consider backing a candidate without so much baggage; a candidate who can win in November.