PHOENIX — A former longtime TV news anchor wants to be Arizona’s next governor. Kari Lake, who retired last year from Fox 10 News after more than two decades at the station, is raising money to run for the Republican nomination.
Lake has officially filed a "statement of interest" to run in the Republican primary for Arizona governor. The statement of interest is a precursor to formally declaring a run for public office and usually results in candidacy.
The last TV news personality to win a major political office in Arizona was former sportscaster, JD Hayworth. He served in Congress representing the East Valley until 2007. Like Hayworth, Kari Lake appears to be using her broadcasting career as a launching point into politics.
“Kari Lake is a household name and a person with that kind of name identification and that kind of magnetic personality, and that kind of Republican-oriented enthusiastic belief system, you cannot discount from going all the way to the governor’s office,” said Stan Barnes, a political consultant and owner of Copper State Consulting Group.
A video released Tuesday features Lake describing why she left Fox 10 News. Lake says she became disillusioned with what she describes as an increasingly left-wing bias in the news media and she was particularly frustrated with the way her TV station covered the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID scared everybody into their homes," Lake said in the video. "I felt there was a narrative of ‘let’s keep this going, really hard on COVID. COVID, COVID."
Lake has been a lightning rod for criticism over the years for comments she’s made on social media. She has endorsed or retweeted debunked conspiracy theories. During the Red for Ed movement, Lake argued the campaign was actually a cover for legalizing weed. Lake later apologized for making the false claim.
More recently, Lake has forwarded unsupported conspiracy theories regarding the presidential election.
Barnes says he doesn’t believe past gaffes will make a big difference in a primary.
“Whatever perceived missteps she has had in the public square as part of her professional life is going to immediately melt away and become irrelevant in the dynamics of a Republican Primary election,” Barnes said.
Lake did not respond to 12 News requests for an interview.
A new website launched on Tuesday morning to raise money for the bid.
The website, karilake.com, features a "Kari Lake for Governor" logo and a countdown clock leading up to the Arizona primary. Visitors can also find a link to donate and a brief bio on Lake.
"Kari Lake stands as a symbol of truth in journalism and represents the growing ranks of journalists who have walked away from the mainstream media market peddling fake news," the bio section of her website says.
Her website does not outline a platform of her political views. It does, however, contain a photo of Lake and former President Trump.
Lake joins two other Republicans, AZ State Treasurer Kimberly Yee and AZ Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, who have also announced they are running.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's term ends in 2022.
Lake worked at 12 News early in her career before reporting in Albany, New York and returned to Arizona as an anchor for FOX 10 News for 22 years.