Mike Pence wages war on Trump in Arizona GOP governor’s primary, backs rival to Kari Lake

Mike Pence endorses a RIVAL of Trump’s favored candidate in the Arizona governor’s race: Potential 2024 opponents draw more battle lines and pull further apart

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Mike Pence is drawing yet another battle line against Donald Trump on Monday by endorsing the opponent of Kari Lake, who is favored by the ex-president, in the Arizona Republican gubernatorial primary. 

Pence’s endorsement was announced Monday morning by former Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson’s campaign Twitter account. 

It comes as rumors swirl over the former GOP presidential ticket splitting into a heated Republican primary race in 2024 – though neither Pence nor Trump have confirmed they’re running.

Robson has gained ground in the polls in recent months, with recent surveys showing her trailing Lake by just five points.

Lake is a former local news anchor who has helped Trump promote his claims that the 2020 election was rigged in her state – which was narrowly won by Joe Biden.

‘As Arizona Democrats pursue the reckless Biden-Harris agenda, Karrin Taylor Robson is the only candidate for Governor that will keep Arizona’s border secure and streets safe, empower parents and create great schools, and promote conservative values, Pence said in the statement shared by Robson’s campaign.

‘Karrin is the best choice for Arizona’s future, and I am proud to support her.’

Robson praised Pence as a ‘warrior,’ and in perhaps a veiled jab at Trump, added: ‘Modern politics is full of charlatans & fakes, but VP Pence is the genuine article. He has never wavered in his conservative beliefs & commitment to our Constitution…’

Mike Pence and Donald Trump are going head-to-head in this year's midterm races for a second time
Pence-backed Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia bested Trump's candidate, David Perdue, in late May

Mike Pence and Donald Trump are going head-to-head in this year’s midterm races for a second time after Pence-backed Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia bested Trump’s candidate, David Perdue

Trump and Pence will be competing for Arizona Republicans’ attention on Friday, where both are scheduled to make appearances on behalf of their candidates.

Pence, who has not ruled out challenging Trump in a hypothetical 2024 primary bid, will be at a border event alongside Robson.

Trump will be in Arizona hosting his second rally there this year. It was rescheduled from its original July 16 date over the sudden death of his ex-wife Ivana Trump.

The relationship between the former GOP running mates fractured when Pence refused to partake in Trump and his allies’ plan to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

And the Arizona race is not the first proxy race between Trump and Pence seen this election cycle. Georgia’s primary elections in May had some of the former president’s most high-profile defeats of this campaign cycle, with his favored candidates losing to incumbents for both governor and secretary of state.

Pence had backed Republican Governor Brian Kemp after Trump recruited former Senator David Perdue to challenge him.

Similar to Pence, Kemp invoked Trump’s ire for refusing to promote claims that the last presidential race was rigged in his state.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who Trump also criticized for standing by his state’s elections, indirectly took on the former president earlier this month when he too endorsed Robson for his seat.

Arizona Republicans will head to the polls on August 3 to choose between Trump-backed former local news anchor Kari Lake...
...and a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents who also served in the Reagan administration, Karrin Taylor Robson

Arizona Republicans will head to the polls on August 3 to choose between Trump-backed former local news anchor Kari Lake (left) and a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents who also served in the Reagan administration, Karrin Taylor Robson (right)

Robson's campaign announced Pence's endorsement on Twitter early on Monday morning

Robson’s campaign announced Pence’s endorsement on Twitter early on Monday morning

The term-limited governor praised Robson as a true conservative and pointed to her time working in Ronald Reagan’s White House as evidence of her credentials, in a video released by her campaign on July 7.

More recently, he further distanced himself from Trump by tearing into Robson’s opponent Lake during an interview on CNN’s State of The Union.

‘I think Karrin Taylor Robson will be the best person to be a fresh new leader for the state of Arizona,’ Ducey said on Sunday. ‘Her opponent, on the other hand, bears no resemblance – her campaign or even her personal interactions with me – to anything she’s done over the past 30 years.’

‘This is all an act. She’s been putting on a show for some time now. And we will see if the voters of Arizona buy it.’ 

Ducey also invoked the nickname ‘Fake Lake’ and accused the former journalist of ‘misleading voters with no evidence’ of Trump’s election fraud claims – though he’s never called out the ex-president on the matter directly.

Shortly after Ducey endorsed Robson, Lake touted her ‘ultra MAGA’ list of supporters – including Donald Trump Jr., MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, disgraced former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani.

Lake and Robson will face-off in the primary election on August 2. 

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