Arizona Senate Primary Heats Up: Lake Leads, Lamb Continues to Fight

Kari Lake and Mark Lamb

As the primary election day in Arizona approaches, the race to replace outgoing Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Tucson) intensifies. For the Republicans, the contest is between Kari Lake and Sheriff Mark Lamb, with the winner set to face Democrat Reuben Gallego (D-AZ-03). According to the latest poll by Noble Predictive Insights on May 24, Kari Lake leads with 46 percent support while Mark Lamb trails at 21 percent. A whopping 25 percent of voters remain unsure and 9 percent support other candidates.

While voters expressed a desire to see Republicans Lake and Lamb square off against each other, the sole opportunity so far in this election cycle was a virtual debate hosted by the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) Action held on May 23. This forum provided Arizona primary voters with a clear view of their contrasting perspectives.

Lake opted out of the Arizona Clean Elections Commission debate on Thursday, choosing instead to engage directly with voters throughout the day at a series of events.

The Lake campaign’s decision to skip the debate stems from the decision to pivot to a general election posture earlier in the cycle. The campaign told The Arizona Sun Times, “Kari is running a phenomenal general-election campaign against the most radical man in congress, Ruben Gallego. Arizonans from all walks of life are embracing her common-sense message and her movement has never been stronger.”

The frontrunner said she used the time on Thursday to appear at five campaign events, including a large town hall.

After the solo television appearance, Lamb appealed directly to Arizonans for their vote.

“Much like this evening, I am used to standing alone, as the proven conservative fighter Arizona needs in Washington, D.C.,” he wrote.

At the AMAC virtual forum in May, both candidates articulated their visions and responded to questions, each highlighting their unique backgrounds and approaches. Lamb, drawing on his extensive law enforcement experience, emphasized his achievements in border security, his management of a large sheriff’s department, and his efforts to combat crime and drugs. “For over 20 years, I fought crime, cartels, and drugs on the front lines. My experience in managing a large team and budget uniquely equipped me to address Arizona’s challenges at the federal level,” Lamb asserted. He emphasized his credentials as a steadfast conservative by repeatedly affirming, “Arizona needs a proven conservative leader” and “I’ve been a conservative my entire life.”

Lake, positioning herself as a “common sense” conservative advocate, reaffirmed her unwavering commitment to conservative values and her role as a vocal opponent of policies detrimental to Arizona. “I consistently championed conservative values and continued to fight for Arizona, ensuring we brought a strong conservative perspective to the Senate,” Lake declared. She highlighted her endorsement by President Trump, noting, “He asked me to run because we need fighters in Washington, DC.” Lake outlined her mission to support Trump’s America First and Arizona First agendas once elected.

In the forum, Lamb was the first to critique Lake. “Kari has passion, but unfortunately, she surrendered to the establishment.”

He attributed her surrender to her acceptance of endorsements from current establishment leaders, asserting his independence, “I stand on my own two feet.”

He said, “In Washington, Arizona needs a conservative with a proven record to fight for God, family, and country. I bring the necessary knowledge and experience. While I supported President Trump and would have cherished his endorsement, I am committed to earning it back after the primary.”

Lamb declared, “I stand the best chance of defeating Reuben Gallego.”

During the May forum, Lamb and Lake found common ground on many substantive issues. However, they diverged significantly on Lamb’s claim of being the proven conservative and Lake’s alleged surrender to the establishment. Tensions flared when Lake responded to a question about election security. “Lamb doesn’t think I am a fighter, but I continually fought while he stood before Congress and declared no fraud in the 2020 election,” Lake argued. She accused Lamb of cowardice regarding election security and his failure to recognize problems at the border.

At Thursday’s forum, Lamb clarified his congressional testimony about election fraud. He acknowledged that fraud occurred in every election when asked. However, when pressed specifically about large-scale fraud, he confirmed that he had no evidence to support such allegations, stressing the importance of presenting credible and legally admissible evidence to Congress. Lamb also defended his commitment to election integrity, citing his efforts to gather evidence and his vocal advocacy on the issue. During the debate, he admitted that he should have specified that his lack of evidence pertained to Pinal County.  Lamb asserted that although he personally didn’t see “widespread” fraud, he doubted the reported vote totals for Joe Biden.

In response to Lake’s accusations, Lamb issued a press release calling her a “bully.” He said that neither Kari nor anyone else had presented substantial evidence to indicate widespread fraud. Lamb added, “Kari’s use of the word coward is a slap in the face to every man and woman that upholds our laws and wears a badge and uniform.”

Subsequently, a group of bi-partisan Arizona sheriffs issued a statement where they criticized Lake. “We want to make it clear: neither Sheriff Mark Lamb nor any law enforcement officer who wears a badge and uniform, putting their life on the line every day to protect and serve our communities, is a coward,” the statement added.

Watch the May forum with Lake and Lamb:

Voter registration for the primary ends on July 1, with the primary itself set for July 30.  Early ballots will be mailed out on July 3.

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Christy Kelly is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Christy on Twitter / X. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mark Lamb” and “Kari Lake” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.





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