Trump’s hold on GOP on the line during AZ primary

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 7:22 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona played out outsized role in the 2020 Presidential election and now it’s poised to do the same for the Republican Party and former President Donald Trump in the 2022 Arizona primary.

Some Republican strategists feel Arizona could play a make it or break it role for Trump’s future in the GOP.

Trump has conveyed his endorsement and full weight of his political power behind GOP candidate for Governor Keri Lake.

Lake is a former TV News anchor and 2020 election denier.

She is locked in a battle with Karrin Taylor Robson, who is the choice of former Vice President Mike Pence and current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

Ducey and Trump have been locked in a political stare down since Ducey certified the election for President Joe Biden in December.

Pence has been looking for a way to distance himself from Trump after serving as his VEEP for four years.

The candidates themselves are proxies in a war of political power and will.

“It’s a very small subset of Republican activists who dictate the outcome of who the Republican nominee is going to be,” said Chuck Coughlin, President and CEO of Highground, a public affairs consultants group in Phoenix.

That will be advantage Lake because more extreme voters will likely cast ballots in a primary. Robson has positioned herself as a more moderate, establishment candidate whose voters tend to wait until the general election to cast ballots.

Those who feel the election was stolen from Trump are more likely to turnout.

“That narrative is still a very strong narrative among the Republican primary electorate,” Coughlin said. “I dare say its over 60% of the electorate that feels there was substantial problems with the last election cycle.”

If Trumps endorsement is not enough to carry Lake across the finish line, his hold on the Republican party is likely to diminish.

“It’ll take some steam out of the Trump narrative going forward, ‘cause if he can’t win Arizona in the general or the primary, he’s pretty much done,” Coughlin said.

Still Trump has a full slate of Arizona candidates who have received his endorsement including Mark Finchem for Secretary of State and Blake Masters for US Senate.

According to Mike Noble, the CEO of OH Predictive Insights, “the Trump-endorsed candidates are all sitting in good positions heading into election day and it is plausible that they could all win out.”

Which is why Arizona will be a must watch for politicos nationwide.

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