Bolling: The Challenge for the GOP

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

In the 2022 campaign for Governor of Arizona, Republican Kari Lake lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs by 17,117 votes, or less than 1% statewide. A recent analysis of the Arizona vote revealed some interesting numbers that explains why Lake lost the campaign.

In Maricopa County, Arizona alone, 33,000 voters cast their vote in the Governor’s race for the Democrat, Katie Hobbs, even though they voted for six Republican candidates in down ballot races. In other words, 33,000 Republican voters voted against Kari Lake, who was the nominee of their own party.

In addition, another 6,000 Republican-leaning voters opted to skip the race altogether or wrote in a candidate other than Lake or Hobbs, the analysis found.

If these voters had stuck with the GOP ticket, Lake would have won the race by more than 20,000 votes, but because of her failure to lock in historically reliable Republican voters, she lost by 17,117 votes statewide.

Why did these historically reliable Republican voters not support Kari Lake? Well, if you followed the Arizona campaign the answer was fairly obvious.

Lake was viewed by many Republicans as simply being too far out of the political mainstream. She was a Trump loyalist, and a 2020 election denier, who has since denied her own defeat in a manner consistent with Trump’s escapades following the 2020 presidential election.

More traditional Republicans (those not affiliated with the Tea Party movement or the MAGA movement) will support conservative candidates, but they will not support candidates who are viewed as being out of the political mainstream, even if they are the Republican nominee.

Herein lies the challenge for Republicans in 2024 and beyond. The party must find a way to nominate candidates that can energize and mobilize the Republican base, while at the same time keeping more traditional Republicans engaged and reaching out to more moderate and independent voters.

This can be done, but Republicans have to be strategic in seeking out such candidates, not just wrapping their arms around the farthest right winger they can find. That is a formula for defeat in all but the brightest red states or districts.

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