I think Kari Lake is a bit kooky and a damaged candidate, and probably not the most likely candidate to win a Senate seat in purple Arizona.
But she has more than enough reason to believe that there is a conspiracy to take her out. In fact, she has a recording proving it to be the case. And its contents are very disturbing.
BREAKING: Arizona Republican Party chair Jeff DeWit caught on secret recording trying to bribe Kari Lake not to run for the Senate.
“There are very powerful people who want to keep you out,” he said.
At one point during the secret recording, Lake was asked to name… pic.twitter.com/9r1DoDzITD
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) January 23, 2024
I highly recommend listening to the entire recording and thinking through what is being said and not said.
First, the facts: the chair of the Republican Party of Arizona Jeff DeWit came to Kari Lake bearing a message from powerful people and donors “out East,” letting her know that they didn’t want her to run. They were willing to get her a payout of some kind–a sinecure with a lot of money attached–to give her an attractive alternative.
The conversation took place months ago, and Lake kept it in her back pocket and has trotted it out in the midst of a campaign to replace DeWit as Republican Party Chairman.
BOOM! I think she will win that round of the fight. It’s not as if anybody (except perhaps Trump, who survives anything!)survives the release of a recording like this. People suspecting you are bought and paid for scum is one thing; having it displayed for the world to see is quite another.
Kari Lake just ensured that she owns the near future of the Republican Party of Arizona. DeWit isn’t just done, but will likely never work in politics again.
So that is the context of the conversation: the power and money guys don’t want Lake–big shock there. They are willing to shovel a bunch of money at Lake and get her a nice gig somewhere when she can bloviate to her heart’s content but have no real power. Unsurprisingly, Lake not only rejects the offer but also uses her considerable savvy to turn the tables.
I assure you, this sort of thing happens not infrequently–it’s the behind-the-scenes horse trading that has been part of politics for time immemorial. We used to call this the “smoke-filled rooms” phase of politics, but smoking is illegal indoors these days.
The more shocking parts of the conversation are the ones less interpretable–Kari Lake has her explanation for why the offer is being made, DeWit offers a rather lame counterinterpretation, and then there is what I suspect is the most likely explanation, which is different from what both think or at least say.
Lake thinks this is about getting Trump out of the way–and make no mistake, the Establishment Republicans would love to see Trump fade off into the background. They worry he is a loose cannon and, worse–a loser of a candidate this time. He is unpredictable, difficult to work with, does what he likes without reference to anybody else’s desires, and has a history of hurting down-ballot candidates.
In other words, even if he wins, there is no upside for the Establishment Republicans, and there are lots of downsides to his being at the top of the ticket.
But Kari Lake being a Senate candidate changes none of that. She is a different issue, and they want her out because they are fairly certain she will lose and not play ball with them if she wins. With control of the Senate at stake, they want a candidate who will likely win, not another Dr. Oz or Herschel Walker.
Here is where I depart most from Lake: she talks about the power brokers as if they are potential murderers, willing to take her out if she doesn’t play ball. I think that is pretty kooky, and despite her appearing to those power brokers to be a one-woman wrecking ball, Lake is alive and well and winning her battles within the Party.
I see little evidence that corporate titans and big donors are willing to murder inconvenient candidates. It certainly happens in other countries, but in the US, money is the currency of politics, not bullets.
Comments like this put Lake into the “kooky” category. Before throwing accusations like that out there, it would be best to have the evidence to back it up; otherwise, many people will dismiss you altogether.
Lake is clearly smart and talented–her record of success in motivating Republicans to support her shows that. But her judgment of what sells to the undecided voter is, shall we say, mixed.
American politics is about coalition building and incremental progress. It was designed to be that way, and no matter how frustrating that is, it is the reality in which we live. In order to have power, Lake will have to win an election.
Is that possible? Certainly. Is it likely? Probably not. However, the Arizona election will be a scorcher because the Democrats will be split, too, so who knows?
Kari Lake has done voters a service by exposing the slimy underbelly of politics, although those of us who have been around a while shouldn’t be surprised. Anybody who thought that politics–fighting over who controls trillions of dollars and the rules under which we live–was solely about what is best for the country is terminally naive.
And anybody who thinks that this is a Republican problem is even more naive–Democrats are the party of government even more than Republicans. Hence, this happens even more in Democrat politics than Republicans.
Ask Bernie Sanders about whether the Establishment rigs things on his side of the aisle.
All this is to say that political idealists are a menace in elections. Not because idealism is bad but because politics is filled with bad motivations. You have to make choices in the context of reality, not some fantasy world where if only the right policy was put in place, the world would suddenly get better.
It’s about money and power. That’s why limited government is necessary–the less money and the less power government has the better. The single best thing we could do to clean up politics is to reduce the power of government and how much it spends. Because with so much money and power at stake people will go to extraordinary lengths to gain control of it.