Lake is challenging independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona’s 2024 Senate race, viewed as one of the most competitive races in the country that could determine which party controls Congress‘ upper chamber. A close ally to former President Donald Trump, Lake rose to national prominence during her 2022 gubernatorial campaign in which she focused on Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud. She ultimately lost to then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs but has not conceded defeat nearly one year after the election.
Salmon, who represented Arizona in Congress from 1995 to 2001 and from 2013 to 2017 and ran against Lake in the Republican primary for governor, discussed her candidacy in a new interview with Politico published on Wednesday.
Salmon described Lake as the kind of person who “runs to destroy,” not just “win,” recounting that Lake allegedly accused him of wanting children who have special needs to be assaulted because he opposed putting up cameras in public school classrooms, Politico reported.
“To walk through the kind of sewage that you have to walk through to campaign against Kari Lake—it’s not a pleasant prospect,” he told the news outlet, describing running a campaign against her as a “suicide mission.”
Salmon described the idea of monitoring teachers using cameras, an idea floated by Lake to monitor whether students were being taught Critical Race Theory, a “knee-jerk reaction” in an interview with The Arizona Republic. He said, “The last thing I want is big government and big tech putting these kinds of things in the classroom.”
According to The Arizona Republic, Lake’s campaign account retweeted a post that said he was “okay with special needs kids being raped”.
Newsweek reached out to Lake for comment via email.
Salmon ultimately dropped out of the primary to endorse Karrin Taylor Robson, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents who was viewed as a more traditionally conservative candidate.
In his endorsement, Salmon praised Robson as the candidate with “the temperament and experience to govern Arizona.” Robson, however, ultimately lost the GOP primary to Lake by nearly five percentage points.
Lake is set to face several candidates including Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb in the GOP primary. But polls show Lake, who could benefit from high name recognition and ties to the former president, as the favorite to win the primary. An Emerson College poll conducted among 1,337 from August 2 to 4 found Lake leading Lamb by nearly 30 percentage points.
Sinema, who announced she left the Democratic Party earlier this year, has not yet said whether she plans to run for reelection. Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego is the frontrunner to win his party’s nomination, and polls suggest he would have an edge over Sinema and Lake in the general election.
An October 6 to 7 Public Policy Polling survey conducted among 522 likely voters found that 41 percent of voters planned to back Gallego, compared 36 percent for Lake and 15 percent for Sinema. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. However, the poll found a closer race if Sinema does not run. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they’d back Gallego, while 43 percent said they would vote for Lake.