Arizona GOP governor's primary results are still too close to call.

 Arizona GOP governor's primary results are still too close to call.

Arizona GOP governor's primary results are still too close to call.

In the race for governor of a key battleground state, Arizona Republicans were debating Tuesday between a well-known former news anchor and a development attorney.


READ MORE: Arizona Primary Election Results 2022


Former President Donald Trump backed Kari Lake, who quit her nearly three-decade career in television news to embrace Trump's lies about the 2020 election. She ran against Karrin Taylor Robson, who was backed by prominent Republicans across the country who wanted to push their party away from Trump.


The race was too close to call, with Lake and Robson separated by a hair's breadth.


The Arizona races are poised to provide important clues about the GOP's direction as the midterm primary season enters its final stretch this month. Victories by Trump-backed candidates could provide the former president with allies with clout in election administration as he considers a run for the White House in 2024. Defeats, on the other hand, may indicate that the party is open to a different path forward.


The former president endorsed and campaigned for a slate of candidates who support his lies, including Lake, who says she would have refused to certify President Joe Biden's narrow victory in Arizona. Despite a "unfair" election, Robson believes the GOP should focus on the future.


Trump also backed a state lawmaker who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and claims the former president was cheated out of victory in the race to oversee elections as Arizona secretary of state.


"I think the majority of people, and a lot of Trump supporters, they want to move on," said former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who supports Robson. "I mean, it's been two years." Let's get started. Let's get moving."


The election is taking place on one of the most important midterm primary nights of the year, which had some warning signs for Republicans.


In Kansas, voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have given the Legislature the authority to limit or prohibit abortion. They were the first to vote on abortion rights since the United States Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.


The rejection in a conservative state is a sign of potential energy for Democrats, who are hoping that outrage over the Supreme Court's abortion decision will outweigh inflation concerns and President Joe Biden's dwindling popularity.


Tudor Dixon, a conservative commentator, won the Republican primary for governor of Michigan, beating out a field of unknown conservatives just days after Trump endorsed her. In November, she will face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.


Republican Rep. Peter Meijer was defeated by a Trump-backed challenger, and two Washington state lawmakers were fighting to keep their seats after voting to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 insurgency.


In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the Republican Senate nomination and will face Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, an Anheuser-Busch beer heiress. In addition, two Republican House members from Washington state who voted to impeach Trump face primary opponents.


WATCH: Voters head to the polls in several key primaries, putting Trump's influence to the test once more.


However, the races are especially important in Arizona, a longtime Republican stronghold that has shifted in favor of Democrats in recent years due to rapid growth in and around Phoenix. The primary and fall elections will reveal whether Biden's success in 2020 was a one-time occurrence or the beginning of a long-term shift away from the GOP.


With such high stakes, Arizona has been central to Trump and his allies' efforts to cast doubt on Biden's victory through false allegations of fraud.


According to federal and state election officials, as well as Trump's own attorney general, there is no credible evidence that the election was tainted. Courts, including those appointed by Trump, unanimously rejected the former president's allegations of fraud. A hand recount led by Trump supporters in Arizona's largest county found no evidence of a rigged election and determined Biden's margin of victory was greater than the official count.


Though Trump remains the most popular figure within the Republican Party, his efforts to influence primary elections this year have had mixed results. His preferred candidates won primaries in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.


However, in Georgia, another key state in Trump's campaign, his handpicked candidate for governor was defeated by more than 50 percentage points. Brad Raffensberger, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, was also renominated over a Trump-backed primary opponent.


"In a constitutional republic, you have entrusted me with your most sacred possession — your vote," Robson told supporters as she awaited election results.


The former president is hoping for more success in Arizona, where the incumbent governor, Doug Ducey, is not eligible to run for reelection. This could provide Trump with a better opportunity to influence the winner than he did in Georgia.


After anchoring the evening news in Phoenix for more than two decades, Lake is well known throughout the state. She ran as a vehement opponent of the mainstream media, which she claims is biased against Republicans, as well as other opponents of Trump's Make America Great Again movement, including the late Sen. John McCain's family.


Lake, a vocal supporter of Trump's election lies, claimed that her campaign was "already detecting some stealing going on" in her own race, but she repeatedly refused to provide evidence to back up her claim.


Robson, whose husband is a real estate developer and one of the state's wealthiest men, is mostly funding her own campaign. The GOP establishment, increasingly at ease with distance from Trump, has rallied around her in recent months, with endorsements from Ducey, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Vice President Mike Pence.

The outpouring of establishment support for Robson has drawn national attention to the race, which has implications for the GOP base ahead of the crucial presidential primary in two years.


"Everyone wants to use this as a proxy for 2024," Christie, who ran for president in 2016, said. "Believe me, I've been through enough of these to know that the people who step up to the plate... and how they perform or do not perform at that time... will determine 2024."


Robson is running a largely traditional Republican campaign centered on tax cuts and regulations, border security, and school choice. She has also emphasized Lake's previous Democratic support, including a $350 contribution to the previous Democratic president.


"I can't vote for someone who voted for Barack Obama," Travis Fillmore, 36, a firearms instructor from Tempe, said of Robson. He said he still supports Trump and believes the 2020 election was stolen from him, but Lake's support for Obama disqualified him.


Secretary of State Katie Hobbs defeated Marco Lopez, a former Nogales mayor and border enforcement official during Obama's administration.


Hobbs, Arizona's top elections official, endeared herself to Democrats with an impassioned defense of the 2020 election's integrity, a stance that has drawn death threats. However, a discrimination case won by a Black policy adviser during Hobbs' tenure in the Legislature has weighed on her.


Trump-backed Blake Masters won the Republican Senate primary in Arizona. He is a first-time candidate 35 years old who has spent the majority of his career working for billionaire Peter Thiel, who is funding his campaign. Masters emphasized cultural grievances that energize the right, such as critical race theory and claims of big tech censorship.


Until Trump's support, there was no clear front-runner among Masters, businessman Jim Lamon, and Attorney General Mark Brnovich.


Lamon claimed Trump erred in endorsing Masters and used his own fortune to highlight Masters' ties to technology firms and his writings as a college student in support of open borders. Lamon signed a certificate falsely claiming that Trump had won Arizona in 2020 and that he was a "duly elected and qualified" elector in the state.


When the attorney general's election fraud investigation failed to produce criminal charges against election officials, Trump lost faith in Brnovich and his campaign.


In the fall, Masters will face incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly.

Mark Finchem, a Trump-backed candidate who was present at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, won the Republican race for Arizona Secretary of State. Shawnna Bolick, a state lawmaker who has pushed for legislation allowing the Legislature to overturn voter will and decide which candidate receives the state's 11 electoral votes for president, was among his opponents. The Republican establishment backed advertising executive Beau Lane, who claims there will be no widespread problems with the 2020 election.


Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who testified to a House committee on Trump's pressure campaign after the 2020 election on Jan. 6, was defeated in his bid to move up to the state Senate by a Trump-backed challenger.

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