Arizona is already setting up to be perhaps the most heavily watched Senate race in 2024.
From controversial election results to party changes to outspoken candidates – Arizona is the definition of a “battleground” race.
Now it looks like Kari Lake’s latest announcement could be Chuck Schumer’s worst nightmare.
Controversy in the desert
According to Katie Hobbs’ Arizona Secretary of State office, Katie Hobbs defeated Kari Lake in the 2022 midterms by just a half-point, or about 17,000 votes.
The Arizona gubernatorial contest was clouded in election irregularities that took place, especially in Maricopa County – by far the largest in the state – on election day.
According to an investigation by Kari Lake’s legal team, nearly two-thirds of precincts (63%) in Maricopa County experienced “material problems with the tabulators not being able to tabulate ballots.”
This resulted in more than half (51%), of Maricopa County election day voters having to wait at least 2-3 hours to vote.
Many couldn’t wait and left without voting – the definition of voter suppression.
While Democrats dominated in early voting, upwards of 70% of election day, in-person voters were Republicans.
Due to the controversy, two Grand Canyon State counties tried to decertify the results – but Hobbs’ office forced their hands.
And then there’s the little fact that, as Secretary of State, Hobbs counted her own votes in the – despite urges from past Arizona Secretary of States, from both parties, for her to recuse herself.
Kari Lake refuses to go away
But now, Lake has announced her plans for 2024 – and it has Democrats nervous about their chances of holding their slim majority in the U.S. Senate.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the former news anchor let the cat out of the bag.
Lake told WSJ she plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2024.
According to the former gubernatorial candidate, she plans to kick off her campaign on October 10th.
“We need to get a senator in there who is going to fight back and put America first,” Lake told WSJ.
Sinema’s sticky situation
The race will be interesting, as the sitting senator, Kyrsten Sinema, left the Democrat party and will be running as an independent.
That means Sen. Sinema will have challengers on both her Right and Left.
With Lake entering the race, she immediately jumps to the top of the Republican primary field as the frontrunner.
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is already in the race and could be Lake’s stiffest competition in the primary. Though 2022 failed Senate candidate Blake Masters is also rumored to be interested in entering the race.
On the Democrat side, the aisle seems clear for Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix to take the nomination, though political insiders speculate that Tucson Mayor Regina Romero has considered throwing her hat into the ring for this triple threat match as well.
Given Sen. Sinema’s history in first the Green and then the Democrat parties, she will likely split votes in this purple state with Rep. Gallego or whoever comes out of the Democrat party.
That would open the door for Lake, or the Republican nominee for the race, to win with a plurality instead of a majority.
If the GOP can flip Arizona red, it would go a long way to potentially giving Republicans the majority in the Upper Chamber and demote Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York back to Senate Minority Leader.