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Kari Lake’s Trump II: Electric Boogaloo

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This is a funny story from the ever-bothsiding The Hill, about Kari Lake’s baseless legal challenge to her loss in the Arizona governor’s race:

Republicans are expressing doubts about the future in Arizona for Kari Lake, the Trump-backed GOP gubernatorial candidate who has nearly exhausted her long-shot legal challenge to last month’s election.

Lake has dug into unproven claims of misconduct and voter disenfranchisement since her loss to Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D), most recently appealing a state judge’s dismissal of the case days before Hobbs’s inauguration.

She’s given every indication that she doesn’t want to leave the spotlight of the Arizona race, while signaling she’d like to follow in former President Trump’s footsteps by refusing to concede defeat.

Yet even as Lake insists she’ll one day be sworn in as the state’s governor — a pitch that might spark hope among her most fervent supporters — Republicans in the state are saying her continued push may just sink her further.

“It’s done in Arizona,” said Arizona Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin.

“I think the enormous amount of ill will that she’s going to create as a result of the appeal — I mean, it’s OK to file a case, but then some of the stuff she’s been saying on media and posts and just the degradation of the Arizona institutions — I think is really going to hurt her out here,” Coughlin added. “And I don’t really think she’s got a future in terms of her own electoral space here in Arizona.”

Trump used his own baseless claims about losing the 2020 election to keep his followers interested.

Lake before and after Election Day in Arizona has followed a similar course. Even before she was defeated, she had suggested she would only accept a result that showed she had won.

The funny but not like a clown part here is the claim that it’s A-OK to file a frivolous lawsuit, contesting the outcome of an election despite the absence of any even arguably legal basis for doing so, but appealing the trial court’s dismissal is maybe a bridge too far.

A Maricopa county judge bent over backwards, employing Nadia Comaneci-like levels of jurisprudential gymnastics, to find that Lake’s groundless bad-faith claims were not technically groundless and in bad faith because, um . . . it’s very unclear why, but he did order her to pay some of the opposing party’s costs, which is something judges only normally do when somebody is abusing the legal system pretty badly:

A Maricopa County judge on Tuesday ordered Arizona Republican Kari Lake to compensate Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs for some legal fees related to the election lawsuit Lake had brought challenging her loss, but he stopped short of sanctioning Lake for filing the lawsuit.

Judge Peter Thompson had rejected Lake’s lawsuit on Saturday, concluding that there wasn’t clear or convincing evidence of misconduct and affirming Hobbs’ victory. It was a major defeat for Lake, who had lost to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes and sued in an effort to overturn the election. She appealed that Christmas Eve ruling and will seek a direct review from the Arizona Supreme Court, according to a Tuesday afternoon filing.

Attorneys for Hobbs – the current secretary of state – had charged that Lake and her lawyers knew their challenges to the election could not be substantiated, which would violate legal ethic rules. They wanted sanctions against Lake and her team. Thompson did not agree. “The Court finds that Plaintiff’s claims presented in this litigation were not groundless and brought in bad faith,” he wrote on Tuesday.

But he ordered Lake to pay Hobbs $33,040.50 in compensation for expert witness fees and again reaffirmed the election of Hobbs, who will be sworn in on January 5.

Lake’s lawyers should have been defenestrated, metaphorically speaking, but very few legal actors have the spine to give Lake, Trump, et. al., what they deserve, which is the Vladimir Putin express elevator service, but for fascists.

Anyway, what’s interesting here is the extent to which somebody like Lake simply treats electoral defeat as impossible in principle, not of course because she believes it’s impossible that she might not get as many votes as her Democratic opponent, but because she believes, probably sincerely, that it’s impossible that she might not get as many votes from Real Americans ™.

What’s also interesting is to contemplate the extent to which it’s possible that Very Serious and Respectable Republicans may, just possibly, be tiring of Lake’s and more importantly Trump’s antics — not of course because they object to any of this in principle, since they too all agree that only the votes of Real Americans should really count, but because as a pragmatic matter this particular cheap trick doesn’t seem to be playing so well in Rockford or Peoria any more.

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