Lamb vs. Lake Debate, Sort Of


U.S. Senate candidate Mark Lamb repeatedly claimed his GOP rival Kari Lake “surrendered to the establishment” while she called him a “total coward” on ensuring election integrity Thursday during an online forum that was the closest to a debate the two Republicans have had in eight months.

Lake, a former television newscaster and the Republican front-runner, largely ignored Lamb’s comments, instead emphasizing that she has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

Near the end, Lake finally unloaded on the Pinal County sheriff, giving a rare measure of an opponent she doesn’t usually acknowledge.

“I have fought for election integrity. I currently have cases in the courts and I know that (Lamb) doesn’t think that I’m a fighter,” Lake said. “There’s not many people who have the ability to fight. I took every hit fighting for security in our elections. Sheriffs have the ability to fight, and the sheriff of Pinal County cowered. He’s a total coward when it comes to election integrity.”

For his part, Lamb distilled his often-overlooked candidacy to a single question for Republican voters:

“The stakes are too high. If you were hiring somebody to run your company, … would you put somebody in there that really had no experience in any of this?” Lamb said.

“Right now, we need people that are proven conservative fighters. While I appreciate her passion, this is not the race. This is not the time.

“You’re going to put somebody in there that’s a proven winner, that’s won two elections, beaten the Democrats, that understands the issues that are affecting Americans and Arizonans, which are the border — the No. 1 issue — the economy, crime, national security.”

The hour-long forum was hosted by AMAC Action, the political arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens, which casts itself as the conservative alternative to the AARP. It was a rare chance for Republicans to consider their options in a race where Lamb has seldom attacked Lake and she has looked ahead to the general election.

Both Republicans are running for the chance to replace the retiring Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is the only Democrat on the ballot.

Lamb and Lake weren’t together, and each spoke in timed segments that ensured they couldn’t really engage the other. For most of their segments, they agreed on the importance of tougher border security and the economic damage of persistently high inflation.

Lake reminded listeners throughout that she was the only one who had Trump’s backing and that she shared his America-first priorities. Lamb constantly positioned himself as the candidate with elective experience who has known the responsibility of taking action as sheriff.

But by the end, both candidates ditched subtlety to make their pitch to conservatives.

Lake said she wants to cut the federal budget by half.

“I will never vote to reduce or hurt Social Security,” Lake said, adding that she will protect the program’s future by cutting other spending.

“I think we can slash the federal government by 50%. Most of it is just grossly overweighted with employees that are doing nothing. They’re not even showing up for work,” she said.

Lamb went after Lake.

“I know Kari says she’s a fighter and she’s doing this. It’s easy to talk about it if you’ve never served. One thing is to actually do it. I’ve actually had to make those hard decisions,” he said, listing his resistance to COVID-19 lockdowns and mask mandates.

That led Lake to call him a coward.

Lamb began his next remarks by observing, “I think I might have touched a nerve there.”

Lake, he said, didn’t complain about election problems in her race until she lost the 2022 gubernatorial election, while he hunted for evidence of widespread fraud in his county.

“I don’t think Joe Biden got 81 million votes, but I don’t live in the world of feelings and thoughts. I live in the world of evidence, what you can prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “Any one of these people, including Kari, or any one of them could have brought me the evidence that was actionable in court for me to do something about it.”

Lamb claimed without evidence that he is “only down a few points.” At least three publicly available polls since February have shown Lake leading Lamb by at least 25 percentage points. In one of the few general election polls featuring Lamb, he trailed Gallego in October by 4 percentage points.

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Robert Bulakowski
18 days ago

And to add, Lamb began each of his comments with, I paraphrase, that’s another reason we need a true conservative in DC. It was as though he was trying to convince the audience he is as conservative as Lake or better. I don’t think so. Neither mentioned MAGA from what I heard. I voted for Lamb for Sheriff but will vote for Lake for Senate.

Jan Fiehler
17 days ago

Hiring for a “job”, I want someone with experience. Mark has my vote! Experience in budgeting, border, hard decisions every day and with the border being a top priority there is no-one better. I can’t think of anything that Kari has done that makes her hire-able for the”job” of US Senate?