Lake's victory was a blow to the GOP establishment that lined up behind lawyer and businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson in an attempt to push their party past the Trump era. Lake said she would not have certified President Joe Biden's 2020 victory and put Trump's claims of election fraud at the center of her campaign.
“Arizonans who have been forgotten by the establishment just delivered a political earthquake,” Lake said in a statement after the race was called.
Republicans now enter the general election sprint with a slate of nominees closely allied with Trump who question the legitimacy of Joe Biden's election. Lake will face Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the November election.
“This race for governor isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. It’s a choice between sanity and chaos,” Hobbs said Thursday night in a statement on Lake's victory.
Early election results showing only mail ballots received before Election Day gave Robson a solid lead, but that was whittled down as votes from polling places were added to the tally. Lake's victory became clear Thursday when Maricopa County released results from thousands of mail ballots dropped off at the polls on Tuesday.
“The voters of Arizona have spoken,” Robson said in a statement conceding to Lake late Thursday. “I accept the results, I trust the process and the people who administer it.”
Lake now faces the daunting task of uniting the Republican Party after a bruising primary. On Wednesday, as Lake declared victory prematurely, she attempted to reach out to Robson and others she fiercely criticized as RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only, who don't align with Trump on key issues.
“Frankly, this party needs her to come together, and I welcome her,” Lake said of Robson. “And I hope that she will come over for this.”
Robson said she’s spent her life supporting Republicans, “and it is my hope that our Republican nominees are successful in November.”