Republican Kari Lake drew backlash Monday night after crying "BS" when news networks projected her to lose the Arizona gubernatorial race to Democrat Katie Hobbs.
Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state, is projected to be the state's next governor, according to the Associated Press and other news networks. Lake cut Hobbs' election night lead since Tuesday but ultimately failed to make up enough ground. Hobbs on Monday led by more than 20,000 votes with less than 15,000 left to count, according to the Arizona Mirror.
Lake, a former news anchor who was backed by former President Donald Trump, became one of the most prominent election deniers in the country but ultimately lost like so many other election deniers that the former president backed in key battleground states. Fellow Arizona election deniers Blake Masters and Mark Finchem also lost the U.S. Senate and secretary of state races, respectively.
Trump complained about the call on Truth Social.
"Wow! They just took the election away from Kari Lake," he wrote. "It's really bad out there."
Lake, who had spent days stoking doubt in the vote-counting, responded to her defeat in a terse tweet.
"Arizonans know BS when they see it," she wrote.
Lake's critics seized on the tweet.
"As it turns out, yes, yes they did," tweeted former Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
"Totally true, as the vote shows," jabbed Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif.
"At least 50.4% of Arizonans knew," wrote Bloomberg editor Tim O'Brien.
"Perfect concession: self-aware & concise," quipped The New Yorker's Philip Gourevitch.
"Self-ownership perfected," added attorney Ari Cohn.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., shared a letter Lake sent to her in October thanking her for an "in-kind contribution" to her campaign by campaigning against her.
"You're welcome," Cheney wrote.
Others called out Lake for calling the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a "loser" and telling his supporters to "get the hell out."
"Kari Lake told a legion of John McCain supporters across Arizona that they could go to hell. Tonight, they returned the favor," an anonymous GOP strategist told CNN.
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Lake had stoked doubt in the vote-counting since Election Day, crying foul over voting machine malfunctions in Maricopa County. She then targeted Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who launched a PAC last year to defeat Republicans who backed election lies, even though that PAC spent no money promoting or opposing any candidates, according to the Arizona Mirror.
"Shouldn't Election Officials be impartial? The guys running the Election have made it their mission to defeat America First Republicans. Unbelievable," the election denier tweeted on Monday.
Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the Maricopa County Election Center over the weekend after dozens of GOP supporters, including some that were armed and wearing ballistic vests, staged a protest and carried signs claiming "Kari Lake Won" and "Hobbs is a Cheat." But there was no repeat of the aggressive 2020 election protests at the vote-counting center, said Sheriff Paul Penzone, and the protest cleared out after about an hour.
Some of Lake's closest aides have urged her to "take a measured approach" and not "storm the castle" in response to her loss, The Washington Post reported. Lake campaign insiders had prepared for a "stinging loss" to Hobbs over the weekend and realized over the last several days that Lake had little path to victory. But discussions have also included Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Trump attorney Christina Bobb and at one point Trump himself. Discussions have ranged from "how Lake could acknowledge a loss to whether she should adopt Trump's playbook and claim the election was stolen from her," according to the report. "People around Lake have told her it would not be in her best interest to claim the election was stolen. They have also warned of possible harm to Arizona, and the country more broadly," the Post reported.
While many of the Trump-backed election deniers that have lost quickly conceded their races, there is no sign that Lake plans to do so. Former Republican strategist Tim Miller said her tweet that "Arizonans know BS when they see it" was "unintentionally" right.
"Arizonans saw that she was full of BS when it came to the election, and they voted her out," he told MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle. "It is a sign that she is going to, and in the vein of Trump continue to fight this to a certain level. But at some point, you would think that Republicans… would just say, enough is enough of this. It has unnecessarily cost them countless seats, really, this cycle in the House and Senate. It cost them the governorship of Arizona, and thank goodness for that."
Ruhle wondered if Lake plans to fly down to Mar-a-Lago to appear alongside Trump at his "big announcement" on Tuesday amid speculation that she could be his running-mate. Ruhle added, "she can be the VP of catering services at Mar-a-Lago."
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