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Trump, Pence for staging duels in Arizona gubernatorial campaign

In a dramatic midterm split, former President Donald Trump and his former Vice President Mike Pence will hold campaign events this weekend in Arizona, where Trump is avenging a battle that nearly defeated him against President Joe Biden, a state that serves as ground zero. to continue his “big lie”. Pence’s Monday endorsement of Karrin Taylor Robson, a wealthy GOP donor and former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, over Kari Lake, the former Fox 10 Phoenix anchor Trump signed last fall, represents the latest rift between the two leaders, both 2024 aspirations. which are almost entirely in their administration — until Pence responds to the Trump campaign to intervene and overturn the 2020 election. In a statement, Pence called Robson “the best choice for Arizona’s future” and a candidate for “advocating conservative values,” echoing Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s term-limited language. Robson started voting day. later. Ducey called Robson “really conservative” in the race.

While it’s unclear if Ducey will join him, Pence is expected to hold at least one event for Robson on Friday, while Trump rallies for his candidates in Prescott. The details of Pence’s plans are still being worked out, a source familiar told ABC News.

A slate of Trump endorsees who espouse his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, without evidence, are running for statewide offices in charge of overseeing and certifying elections in the state, raising concerns about election integrity within the Republican Party — the very issue those Trump-backed candidates claim to be running on. The former president’s rally with them, rescheduled from last Saturday due to the death of his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, now comes one day after the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack will hold a prime-time hearing to lay out the timeline of Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.

“It’s a war for the soul of the Republican Party in Arizona,” Barrett Marson, Arizona GOP strategist, told ABC News on Monday. But he offered Trump and Pence a warning to go to town 10 days before the Aug. 2 primary. “The thing that really stands out in Arizona is that we’re first-time voters, so the impact of the Trump and Pence endorsements is pretty muted,” he said. Last Friday, 253,000 early ballots were returned in the state, with about 26,500 more votes in the Democratic primary than in the Republican primary, according to Uplift Data, which reported from the Arizona Democratic Party Voter File and the Arizona County Recorder.

What has made a difference in Arizona’s gubernatorial race is State Rep. Matt Salmon dropping out of the race in June, a week before early voting began in an apparent effort to consolidate votes around Robson. Salmon has criticized Lake for a handful of hypocrisy scandals, such as having donated in the past to Democratic candidates in the past. Since he left the race, Robson has seen a boost in polling, though Lake still holds a narrow lead.

Back in May, in their first major collision of the 2022 midterm cycle, the former vice president last held a rally counter to Trump ahead of Georgia’s gubernatorial primary, breaking from Trump to stump for incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Kemp beat David Perdue, the former senator Trump recruited, and soared to victory without a runoff — dealing a blow to Trump’s endorsement power which will be tested again in Arizona in two weeks.