By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
“Kari Lake’s misleading voters with no evidence,” Ducey, who co-chairs the Republican Governors Association, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked about Lake’s embrace of Trump’s debunked claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Lake became an early favorite in the August 2 primary by embracing the once-fringe extremism now mainstream within the Republican Party, including promoting election lies, doubling down against mask and vaccine mandates, and calling for the imprisonment of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is also running for governor.
Ducey, who is term-limited and has endorsed Republican candidate Karrin Taylor Robson to succeed him, criticized Lake on Sunday as he urged Arizona voters to make this election “about the future” and not the past. “I don’t think we should think for one more moment about 2020. This is about the 2022 election cycle,” he said.
Asked Sunday if the RGA would back Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, a leading voice in advancing Trump’s lies about election fraud who also has the former President’s endorsement, Ducey would only say that Election Day “is a long way off.”
“We don’t know who the next Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Larry Hogan in Maryland, or Glenn Youngkin in Virginia is going to be,” Ducey said, referring to Republican governors who have won elections in Democratic-leaning states in recent years. “So we will make those decisions targeted on a basis on how we can have success and results.”
Trump mounted a public and sustained attack against Ducey shortly after the November 2020 election, which saw Trump lose Arizona to Joe Biden. Ducey defended his state’s election process, tweeting, “That’s the law. I’ve sworn an oath to uphold it, and I take my responsibility seriously.”
Despite Trump’s ire, Ducey has remained a popular figure in Arizona among moderates and establishment Republicans, even as the former President maintains a strong hold on the Arizona GOP base.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spent months working aggressively to persuade Ducey to mount a Senate campaign, under the belief that he would be the strongest candidate to defeat Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who’s running for a full six-year term in November. But Ducey wrote in a letter to donors this spring that his “mind hasn’t changed” from January 2021, when he initially said he would not run for the Senate.
“These days, if you’re going to run for public office, you have to really want the job,” Ducey said at the time. “Right now I have the job I want, and my intention is to close my years of service to Arizona with a very productive final legislative session AND to help elect Republican governors across the country in my role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.”
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CNN’s Kyung Lah contributed to this report.