The Far-Right Is Convinced Kari Lake Won: ‘Now Is the Time to Fight’

Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake has refused to concede, and her supporters are already baselessly claiming voter fraud.
Kari Lake, Republican gubernatorial candidate for Arizona, speaks during an Arizona Republican Party election night rally in Scottsdale, Arizona, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jon Cherry /Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The election fraud conspiracies unleashed by former TV news star Kari Lake in her defeat for Arizona governor were both predictable and instantaneous. 

Lake, a Republican with the backing of former President Donald Trump, has refused to concede. After a batch of ballots released Monday night by Maricopa County made it clear that her opponent Katie Hobbs had won, Lake simply tweeted: “Arizonans know BS when they see it.”


In the days since the election, Lake repeatedly told her supporters that she had won, laying the groundwork to challenge a potential Hobbs’ victory as illegitimate. Now, Lake’s supporters, including prominent “Stop the Steal” activists, say they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure their preferred candidate assumes the role of Arizona governor—and are looking to dig their claws into anything they can use to claim “foul play.” And at least one group of right-wing activists are already demanding a “do-over” of Arizona’s entire midterm election.  

“It’s time,” said Gregg Philips, a former Texas official turned election conspiracy activist, on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. “Now is the time to fight. We’re gonna fight [Katie Hobbs] to the bitter end. We will not allow her to certify a stolen election.”

On Telegram in particular, one conspiracy took over: screenshots from the live feed inside the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office that showed a pile of black duffle bags that extremists have said mean that election workers were up to no good. “Black bags are EVERYWHERE,” one Telegram user wrote. 

Ben Bergquam from right-wing media channel Real America’s Voice seemed to allude to those photos on Bannon’s show Tuesday and asserted that Maricopa County poll workers should be forced to sign affidavits to attest to whether they saw people “mixing ballots, mixing boxes, putting them in bags.”


Trump also weighed in on Lake’s behalf Monday night, posting to his app TruthSocial to imply that the election had been stolen from her. 

“Wow! They just took the election away from Kari Lake. It’s really bad out there!” Trump wrote. He also shared a meme featuring a picture of the former TV news star, with the text, “Kari Lake Won.” Other prominent right-wing influencers have also weighed in. “I for one encourage @KariLake not to concede,” wrote ex-Newsmax host John Cardillo to his 300,000 Twitter followers. “Too many mathematically improbable and in some cases impossible irregularities.”

“Wow! They just took the election away from Kari Lake. It’s really bad out there!”

Maricopa County has been ground zero for election conspiracies since 2020 (despite audits and lawsuits failing to turn up any evidence of fraud). Philips’ conspiracy group, True the Vote, ginned up data that Dinesh D’Souza relied on in his debunked 2,000 Mules film to claim that Democrats were running a shady operation to stuff ballot drop boxes in areas that would have been key to Trump winning re-election, including in Maricopa County. 

On the campaign trail, Lake and other MAGA candidates in Arizona, like Blake Masters (who lost his bid for Senate) and Mark Finchem (who lost the race for secretary of state), routinely fanned the flames of those conspiracies, talking about how the election was “stolen” from Trump and regularly referencing 2,000 Mules


So when Election Day rolled around and 20 percent of vote tabulation machines in Maricopa County briefly had problems reading ballots due to printer issues, conspiracy theorists pounced and claimed the “steal” was already in motion. Lake went on right-wing media to claim, without proof, that the vast majority of the 60 polling places impacted were in “Republican parts of town.” 

As Arizona’s voting process dragged on, Lake and her allies continued to claim that it was a conflict of interest that Hobbs, who previously served as  secretary of state overseeing Arizona’s elections, didn’t recuse herself to run for governor. This is not unusual; incumbent secretaries of state run for re-election in the same systems they oversee all the time.) 

Since Election Day, Lake has been telling her supporters that she’d won (despite never once taking the lead over Hobbs). “We won this election on Election night,” her campaign tweeted on Friday. “Everything after was narrative. They didn’t want @KariLake to have her victory speech.” 

Lake has also repeatedly tweeted that she was so confident in her victory that she was already assembling a team to facilitate her transition into the governorship. Lake’s campaign seems to be convinced that she can still win and is urging voters to “cure” their challenged ballots. 


After news broke on Monday that Hobbs had won, some of Lake’s most vocal supporters seemed shaken and despondent. Finchem began spewing out a torrent of conspiracy theories and petty grievances on social media 

“Less tweets more lawsuits,” Finchem tweeted in the middle of a lengthy tweetstorm that also included nuggets of wisdom like: “The results from the machines defy all math” and “Polls had me winning Maricopa. No way we lost Maricopa.”

He also called for a full audit of the vote in Arizona, an expansion of the bogus recount held in Maricopa last year. 

“The people of Arizona deserve better than a steaming shit show of an "election" run by Richer & Gates,” Finchem tweeted. “We want a full review of every ballot envelope under a microscope. You have revealed yourselves for the frauds you are.”

And State Sen. Wendy Rogersventured the possibility that they’d miscalculated Lake’s chances. “We wonder now if we were in an echo chamber,” Rogers said on conservative activist Charlie Kirk’s show.

But others are already looking to take matters into their own hands. At least one group of far-right influencers has already drawn up a more concrete plan to correct what they see as a stolen election in Arizona.


Joe Oltmann, a conservative podcaster from Colorado and major pusher of 2020 election conspiracies, announced a plan on his podcast on Monday night to“shut down” Arizona while demanding a complete redo of the election.

“We are putting everybody on notice, this is peaceful, this is a redress of grievances,” Oltmann said on the podcast. “If you are going to steal our voice and institutionalize slavery, then we as the people should have the opportunity to say no.”

Among the group’s demands, which officials have until Friday to respond to, are the appointment of a special master to oversee Arizona elections along with the removal of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Maricopa County Board of Supervisor Bill Gates, and  Steven [sic] Richer, the Maricopa County Recorder. The Gateway Pundit, a far-right news outlet, promoted the group’s demands in an article on Tuesday with the headline, “IT BEGINS: Patriots Call For a New Legitimate Midterm Election on December 6.” 

The new election would, according to the group’s demands, take place on Dec. 6 and be done only in person, with paper ballots and “precinct level hand counting of ballots.”

If these demands are not met, the group warned that “Arizona citizens, joined by American citizens from across the country, will peacefully descend on Arizona until the new election is conducted.”


Oltmann expanded on what would happen on his Telegram channel: 

“It’s time to Shut It Down,” he wrote. “The people of Arizona are speaking. Every roadway, every building …. Shut it down until the demands are met. It may lead to mass amounts of people refusing to pay taxes, refusing to go to work.”

Users on, a pro-Trump forum, largely agreed that re-running the vote would have little impact and turned to other possibilities.

“Voting AIN'T gonna solve America's leftist problem,” one user wrote.

“Fuck it. just keep talking about it and maybe we will get someone brave enough to start what needs to fucking happen yesterday,” another replied.

“You first, rambo,” a third added.

Others are calling for Lake to assume the position of governor, even though she lost. “KARI LAKE WON. The DNC knows it.  The RNC knows it. We ALL know it,” wrote QAnon conspiracy theorist Ann Vandersteel to her 45,000 subscribers on Telegram. “Gloves off... MAGA needs to ignore these corruptocrats, form a new government of, by and for We the People and move on.”

Another user on made similar remarks. “If the courts don't fix this then hold a rally, invite all the Arizona Patriots and swear in Lake as the new governor on the same day as Hobbs,” they wrote. “Then Lake sets up office and starts running the State.”


“In other words, Arizona needs to ignore the stolen election results,” they added.

Before the election, VICE News spoke to Lake’s supporters in Maricopa County who repeatedly affirmed their belief that fraud was the only way Hobbs could win the race for governor. 

“It seems to be that a win for Katie Hobbs would mean hands down that they [the Democrats] cheated,” said Lindsay Graham, a conservative activist known as “Patriot Barbie,” at a right-wing event in Chandler, Arizona, one day before Election Day. “There is no way there’s enough support in Arizona.” Graham added that she would trust the results of the election if Lake won. 

Many other Republican voters did not mince words when describing the kind of reaction they expected to see from Lake’s supporters, if she were not declared the winner. “I think there’s going to be a big uprising,” Susanna Davis, 61, told VICE News on Election Day outside her polling place, a megachurch in Phoenix, when asked what would happen if Lake lost. 

On Saturday, around 100 protesters gathered outside the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office for a rally that State Sen. Wendy Rogers had promoted via her social media (despite other right-wing thought leaders including Charlie Kirk urging Arizonans to abstain from protesting for the time being). It was the biggest crowd to materialize in front of the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office since Election Day, which was also a flashpoint for protests in 2020. 

Some rally goers came armed with handguns or knives and carried wooden signs bearing slogans like “Lake Won” and “Hobbs=Cheat.” A few came dressed in tactical gear, emblazoned with patches associated with militia movements in the area; one attendee wore a T-shirt advertising Bannon’s War Room podcast. One woman showed up with a wooden cross and knelt outside the recorder’s office where votes were still being tallied as another attendee led the crowd in prayer. 

Attendees expressed frustration with Arizona’s voting system, but at that point, Lake and her allies were still promising that the remaining untallied ballots would be overwhelmingly favorable to Republicans. It was clear that many in the crowd were convinced that Lake would ultimately be declared the winner. 

“I think there’s going to be some real upset people who don’t trust the system,” if Hobbs won, one attendee said. 

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