Elections

Trump and Pence Return to Arizona for Dueling Rallies

Trump speaks at the Save America rally in Florence, Arizona in January. He has endorsed Kari Lake for Arizona governor.
Trump speaks at the Save America rally in Florence, Arizona in January. He has endorsed Kari Lake for Arizona governor. Jacob Tyler Dunn
Donald Trump may no longer be president, but as the primaries approach, his sway over the Arizona Republican party is clearer than ever.

On Friday, July 22, Trump is holding a rally in Prescott Valley, his first in Arizona since his January "Save America" rally in Florence. Trump postponed the latest rally a week due to the death of his ex-wife Ivana Trump. When he does take the stage, he will be flanked by Arizona's "Trump Ticket," as he calls it.

Trump has backed candidates up and down the ballot in Arizona. His favorites include former newscaster Republican Kari Lake, who is running for governor; U.S. Senate candidate and venture capitalist Blake Masters; former Maricopa County prosecutor Abraham "Abe" Hamadeh, who is running for attorney general; and current state representative and secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem.

All four will speak on Friday, according to a speakers list released by Save America PAC, Trump's political action committee, before the event was postponed. "Donald Trump loves Arizona, and he believes in the movement we've built together," Lake tweeted last week, saying she was excited to appear at a Trump rally once again.

On the same day, Trump's former vice president, Mike Pence, will arrive in Arizona, though he won't be at the Trump rally. He'll be in Phoenix and southern Arizona, rallying for Lake's opponent in the August 2 Republican primary.

Pence has endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson, in the Arizona governor's race and will be campaigning for her on Friday. In prepared media statements, Pence has described Robson as "the best choice for Arizona's future," and "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."
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Vice President Mike Pence has endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson for Arizona governor.
Ali Swenson

It would be a stretch to call Robson a moderate. She has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Trump in the past and sowed doubt in the 2020 election, saying she believes that it "wasn't fair," though avoiding specifics. Still, she has increased backing from establishment GOP figures, collecting endorsements from current Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, his predecessor Jan Brewer, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

In comments to NBC News, former White House adviser Steve Bannon called the Arizona governor's race "the purest race in the country for showing MAGA versus the Republican establishment."

The MAGA base has already begun planting the seeds of doubt in the November elections should any of the Trump-backed candidates lose. One recent poll released by The Gateway Pundit, a conspiratorial far-right news site, claimed that Lake and Senate hopeful Masters were both polling far ahead of their opponents.

"If Kari Lake or Blake Masters loses this election, it was likely stolen like the Fraudulent 2020 Election," The Gateway Pundit writer wrote.

Polling from more reputable sources — such as a recent OH Predictive Insights poll — does still give Lake a five-point edge over Robson. But her lead has narrowed since the fall, when she was regularly polling with a double-digit lead over her opponents.

Masters, meanwhile, has taken the lead in the Republican Senate primary from current attorney general and Senate candidate Mark Brnovich in recent polls from Trafalgar Group and OH.

The primaries may be a test of the worth of a Trump endorsement in Arizona — which the former president likely knows, heading into this week's rally.

On Friday, Trump will take the stage after three hours of speakers and entertainment, which will include remarks from other Trump allies such as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, and Arizona GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward.
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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