Politics

People Keep Defacing Kari Lake Signs

A Kari Lake sign, spraypainted, on Camelback Road in central Phoenix.
A Kari Lake sign, spraypainted, on Camelback Road in central Phoenix. Katya Schwenk
Kari Lake, the former TV news anchor turned polarizing far-right candidate for Arizona governor, has spent the last year of her campaign capitalizing on her relationship with former president Donald Trump.

Trump gave Lake a glowing endorsement for governor last year. The two have appeared together frequently — at  Trump's rallies and campaign visits to Mar-a-Lago. With his support, Lake has become one of the GOP front-runners in the race to succeed Governor Doug Ducey.

So, of course, Lake's new campaign signs feature her with the former president, grinning. "Trump-endorsed," they read. They have joined the crush of political signs on Phoenix's streets these days, as the August primary elections fast approach.

It did not take long for people to start destroying them.

As observers on social media have noticed, defaced Kari Lake signs have become something of a trend across Phoenix this week.

One vandal appears to have gone down Camelback Road and spray-painted Trump's face orange on each of Lake's signs. On others, protesters cut out Trump's face, or painted it over with expletives. In one more confusing instance, Trump's face was covered by a photo of Lake herself.

Lake's campaign has been incensed about this. On Twitter last week, Lake called them "losers" with "Trump derangement syndrome." She quickly turned the whole situation into a request for donations, asking supporters to sponsor new signs — at $50 a pop.

In a statement to Phoenix New Times, the campaign doubled down on this: "I am glad that these losers are crawling out of their parent’s basement, I just wish it was to do something productive to society, rather than destroy property," Lake wrote in a statement, claiming to have raised thousands of dollars from supporters chipping in.

However, damage to campaign signs has not seemed to slow, particularly in Phoenix's more liberal neighborhoods, according to reports of their locations on Twitter. New orange-painted Trump signs appeared on Monday.

Meanwhile, Lake's Republican opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson, has gone on the attack, putting up signs across the city that feature Lake next to another former president — Barack Obama. "Kari Lake Donated To Obama," the signs read. Small print at the bottom of the signs reveals that they were paid for by Taylor Robson's campaign.

Lake's former support for Obama has become a point of contention in the race. Despite her hard-line conservative rhetoric in the current race for governor, Lake has had political changes of heart over the years. From 2008 to 2012, Lake was a registered Democrat. She then returned to the GOP.

During that time, in June 2008, someone named "K. Halperin" donated to Barack Obama. Halperin is the last name of Lake's husband, and she has used her married designation in the past. Pressed on this donation in an interview with KTVK-TV (Channel 3) last year, Lake claimed it was her husband's donation made under an erroneous name. She then went on the defensive, saying that regardless, it didn't undermine her credibility.

Her opponents have happily seized on the donation — and reports in conservative news outlets that she canvassed for Obama in 2008 while working as a TV journalist — to brand her as a fake Republican.

Lake's campaign did not reply to Phoenix New Times' requests for comment for this story.

Regardless of the truth of Lake's support of Obama in 2008, her rhetoric is certainly far right these days. Even as recently as last week, Lake was insisting that Trump won the 2020 election and calling journalists who disagreed "propagandists."

Sticking to those stolen election claims, as Lake has done for more than a year now, might get you Trump's endorsement. But, apparently, it can't keep him on your signs.
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Katya Schwenk is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times. Originally from Burlington, Vermont, she now covers issues ranging from policing to far-right politics here in Phoenix. She has worked as a breaking news correspondent in Rabat, Morocco, for Morocco World News, a government technology reporter for Scoop News Group in Washington, D.C., and a local reporter in Vermont for VTDigger. Her freelance work has been published in Business Insider, the Intercept, and the American Prospect, among other places.
Contact: Katya Schwenk