Kari Ann Lake (born August 23, 1969) is an American politician and former television news anchor. After working at Phoenix television station KSAZ-TV for 22 years, she stepped down from her anchor role in March 2021. She announced her campaign for governor of Arizona on June 1, 2021, and is the Republican nominee in the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election.
Early life and education
Lake was born in Rock Island, Illinois, to Larry A. Lake, a teacher and football and basketball coach from Richland Center, Wisconsin, and Sheila A. +more Lake (née McGuire), a nurse from Appleton, Wisconsin.
In May 1991, Lake began working at KWQC-TV in Davenport, Iowa, as an intern while attending the University of Iowa. She later became production assistant before joining WHBF-TV in Rock Island, Illinois, to be a daily reporter and weekend weathercaster in 1992. +more In August 1994, Lake was hired by KPNX in Phoenix, Arizona, to be the weekend weather anchor. She later became evening anchor at KPNX before relocating to work for WNYT in Albany, New York, in the summer of 1998, when she replaced Chris Kapostasy.
After leaving her job as a TV anchor, Lake ran for Arizona governor as a Republican, and was notable for expressing pro-Trump views. In her last years working in the media, she shared false and unverified information on social media, prompting criticism and acquiring a reputation as a provocateur. +more In 2018, she opposed the Red for Ed movement, which sought more funding for education through strikes and protests, claiming that movement was a "big push to legalize pot"; she later apologized for the statement (saying that she "made an incorrect conclusion") and, according to the station's regional human resources director, subsequently took an unexpected month-long leave from her position at the station. In July 2019, Lake was caught on "hot mic" footage promoting her account on the web platform Parler. She shared COVID-19 misinformation on Twitter and Facebook in April 2020. Lake's statements and actions made her a divisive figure among colleagues in her last years at the station.
In March 2021, she announced her departure from KSAZ, one day after FTVLive, a television news industry site, published a video clip of Lake at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando; the website questioned whether Lake was there as a journalist or as a member of a movement. In June 2021, she announced her campaign for governor.
Lake was a member of the Republican Party until November 3, 2006, when she changed her registration to become an independent. She registered as a Democrat on January 4, 2008, the day after the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses were won by Obama. +more Lake returned to being a Republican on January 31, 2012. She explained her leaving the Republican Party in 2006 as a reaction to the then-ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She had supported John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008. She also made several donations to Democratic presidential candidates. After launching her campaign for governor in 2021, Lake cited Trump, Ronald Reagan, and Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward, all former Democrats, as precedent for her party-switching.
2022 gubernatorial run
Lake filed paperwork in June 2021, to seek the Republican nomination for governor of Arizona in the 2022 election. Four candidates sought the Republican nomination: Lake; former real estate developer and Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson; Paola Tulliani Zen, and Scott Neely. +more Lake and Robson were the front-runners, leading in polling and fundraising. A fifth Republican candidate, ex-congressman Matt Salmon, dropped out of the race after trailing in polls and endorsed Robson.
Lake received Donald Trump's endorsement in September 2021. The primary was seen as a "battle" between Republicans aligned with Trump and establishment Republicans. +more Robson was supported by figures such as former Vice President Mike Pence, incumbent Arizona governor Doug Ducey, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. By the end of 2021, Lake had raised $1. 4 million from 12,000 sources. Lake centered her campaign on promoting the false claim that the 2020 presidential election in Arizona and nationwide was "rigged and stolen"; Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump White House aide who promoted Trump's efforts to overturn the election results, attributed her victory in the Republican primary, despite being "outspent 10-to-1," on her stance. Lake won the Republican primary in Arizona on August 2, 2022, winning in all counties.
In August 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake led anti-mask rallies, calling on Arizona State University students to go against the university's mask mandates. Lake said that as governor she would not tolerate mask and vaccine mandates of the COVID-19 pandemic. +more In November 2021, Lake told a group of Republican retirees that she was taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19 infection. She stated that, as governor, she would work to have hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin produced in the state to "make it easier for us to get these lifesaving drugs. " Lake questioned the science behind COVID-19 vaccines and said that she had not been vaccinated.
Lake identifies as a conservative Republican and described herself in 2022 as a "Trump candidate. " During her 2022 gubernatorial campaign, she attracted support from right-wing extremists. +more She accused President Joe Biden and Democrats of harboring a "demonic agenda. " In 2021 and 2022, Lake attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual meeting of conservatives and Republicans, in Orlando.
Lake said in 2022 that she considers abortion to be "the ultimate sin" and praised the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. +more Jackson Women's Health Organization, which held that there was no federal right to abortion under the U. S. Constitution, and overturned Roe v. Wade. She expressed support for banning both surgical abortions and medication abortions in Arizona. In an op-ed for the Independent Journal Review, Lake wrote that as governor she would deport illegal immigrants that enter Arizona without seeking federal approval and complete unfinished portions of Trump's border wall.
In an interview with 60 Minutes Australia journalist Liam Bartlett, Lake asserted that Australians "have no freedom" due to strict Australian gun laws; in a tweet several months later, Lake said that if elected governor, she +more_Constitution)'>would not "recognize" federal gun laws.
Promotion of false election claims and alignment with Trump
Lake has been a leading proponent of the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" from Trump. During her campaign, she aligned herself with Trump, and made promotion of election lies central to her candidacy.
Lake falsely claimed President Joe Biden did not receive 81 million votes and that Arizona (which was won by Biden in the 2020 presidential election) was actually won by Trump. After the 2021 Maricopa County presidential ballot audit found no evidence of election fraud, she demanded the election be "decertified"-a legal impossibility, as such a process does not exist. +more She endorsed a false assertion by Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington that Democrats use mail-in ballots to rig elections. Lake tweeted quotes made by Sidney Powell on Lou Dobbs Tonight falsely asserting there was a sweeping election fraud conspiracy. She has advocated imprisoning Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (who is running for governor in 2022 as a Democrat) on baseless and unspecified allegations of criminality related to the 2020 election. Lake also called for imprisoning journalists. Lake repeatedly and falsely claimed that defendants arrested in connection with the January 6 United States Capitol attack were being "being held in prison without being charged. ".
Trump endorsed Lake's candidacy, as did pro-Trump Republican figures such as Arizona congressman Paul Gosar and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. By contrast, Lake's main primary opponent, Robson, was endorsed by outgoing Republican governor Doug Ducey, as well as Arizona Senate president Karen Fann and Americans for Prosperity. +more Lake attacked Robson for failing to endorse false claims of election fraud. Lake attended events headed by My Pillow founder Mike Lindell, a prominent promoter of false claims regarding fraud in the 2020 election. During her 2021 campaign for governor, she said that she would not have certified Biden's 2020 election victory in Arizona if she had been governor at the time. During a June 2022 debate among candidates for the Republican nomination, Lake continued to insist the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" and "corrupt. ".
Fox News reported in July 2022 that days before Trump's inauguration, Lake had posted a meme on Facebook that declared the inauguration a "national day of mourning and protest", in which she asked her followers how they would react to Trump's inauguration. She asked "Will you be protesting the inauguration?" and how they might protest. +more The post was deleted after Fox News asked Lake's campaign about it.
Dispute with Rick Stevens
After Lake posted remarks critical of drag queens performing in front of children, Rick Stevens, who performs professionally under the name Barbra Seville, published photos and text messages purportedly demonstrating a professional relationship and personal friendship with Lake. Stevens said that he has performed at Lake's home and in front of Lake's then "9 or 10 years old" daughter at Lake's invitation. +more Lake described Stevens' allegations as "defamatory lies," specifically denying they had been friends and denying that he had ever been in her home. Lake has threatened litigation against both Stevens and outlets that pursued the story.
Endorsement of Jarrin Jackson
Lake endorsed Jarrin Jackson, a far-right online streamer, in his campaign for State Senate in Oklahoma. Jackson was subsequently scrutinized for his past record of making antisemitic comments, including claims that "the Jews" are evidence that "evil exists"; "Jews will go to hell"; and "Jews [are] taking over the world. +more" These prompted groups such as Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix to call on Lake - and other Arizona Republicans who endorsed Jackson, including Mark Finchem - to rescind their endorsements. Lake denounced Jackson's comments and said, "I looked at Jarrin's resume as (a) Combat Veteran in Afghanistan. It is impossible to dig into everything someone has said in their life. If his reported comments are true, I obviously rescind my endorsement. ".
Lake has been married to Jeff Halperin since August 1998. She was previously married to Tracy Finnegan, an electrical engineer. +more Friends of Lake described her as a Buddhist, although she now identifies as Christian.