Phoenix was sweltering Friday, and the political heat may have been just as uncomfortable, with former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence holding dueling rallies for opposing candidates in the upcoming Republican primary race for governor.
With less than two weeks until primary day and early voting underway, Trump is backing former local TV news anchor Kari Lake while Pence and sitting Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have thrown their support behind Karrin Taylor Robson, a land use strategy consultant.
Pence and Ducey campaigned with Robson in Peoria, a growing suburb in the Phoenix area, on Friday morning.
In Peoria, Pence called Robson the "clear conservative choice for Republicans in Arizona," and he pointed out that during the 2016 election, Lake was an Obama supporter who had posted on Facebook that Trump and Pence's inauguration day should be a national day of mourning and protest. He recalled that she had encouraged people to use the hashtag #NotMyPresident.
Trump endorsed Lake early, and many GOP operatives in Arizona think she's reached her ceiling in the polls. Meanwhile, Robson is gaining momentum thanks in large part to the $17 million she's spent on TV ads. Robson, whose husband made a fortune in developing retirement resort communities, has lent her campaign $13 million. She also has the endorsement of Gov. Doug Ducey, who is ineligible to run for another term. In contrast, Lake has spent less than $1 million on TV.
A poll last month showed Lake leading Robson by five points with nearly a quarter of voters undecided.
In the Republican Senate primary, Trump has endorsed Peter Thiel's protégé, Blake Masters. Masters has enjoyed a bump in the polls since Trump's endorsement last month, but a large portion of Republican voters remain undecided.
A recent poll from OH Predictive Insights showed Masters leading businessman Jim Lamon by seven points. But more than a third of likely GOP voters in the poll also said they made a decision in the race.
Lamon has been ratcheting up his attacks on Masters since Trump's endorsement. During the last debate, Lamon called Masters a California transplant who is controlled by Big Tech. Masters fired back by making fun of Lamon's accent and referring to him as a "bozo." State Attorney General Mark Brnovich is the more moderate candidate in the race but he didn't appear in the last debate and has seen his early lead in the polls diminish. The winner of the primary will face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
Trump's evening rally was in Prescott Valley, one of the more conservative parts of the state.
"You have the opportunity to vote for an outstanding slate of true conservative warriors," Trump told the crowd.
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