Abe Hamadeh, Kari Lake, and Blake Masters in 2022, when they were all one big happy ticket of losing candidates.
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Aficionados of crazy cage fights were disappointed that a Blake Masters-=–Kari Lake GOP Senate primary did not develop in Arizona. Both MAGA politicians were interested in running for Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat in 2024, but their common idol Donald Trump nudged Masters out of the race. Undaunted, Masters downshifted to the U.S. House race when Republican congresswoman Debbie Lesko abruptly decided to retire at the end of her current term.
But Masters isn’t going to have the MAGA lane to himself by any means. Even before he entered the contest, 2022 attorney-general nominee Abe Hamadeh had already jumped in. Hamedeh greeted Masters’s announcement of candidacy immediately with an endorsement from none other than Kari Lake:
Hamadeh and Lake are old allies and share a taste for election denial (both went to court to challenge their 2022 defeats, Hamadeh for AG and Lake for governor). Both candidates probably feel entitled to a Trump endorsement, but the former president is expected to prudently stay out of it for now.
Masters and Hamadeh have more in common than a determination to Make America Great Again: Neither of them actually lives in the suburban Phoenix district they both want to represent. Masters, in fact, is from Tucson, an entirely different metropolitan area, while Hamadeh is at least from a nearby suburb, leading his campaign to mock Masters as more of a carpetbagger:
If the intra-MAGA battle becomes too intense, a path to victory may open up for an alternative. Upon announcing her retirement, Lesko endorsed Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma — who has not formally entered the race — as her preferred successor.
Whoever emerges from the primary is expected to win the seat in a district the Cook Political Report rates as 10 percentage points more Republican than the country as a whole. Lesko drew no Democratic opponent in 2022, though Democrat Greg Whitten did announce a 2024 run before the incumbent took a pass on reelection.
If Masters prevails, he may have some trouble snuggling up to his ticket-mate Lake this time around. Turns out the MAGA movement is quite big enough to accommodate some bitter rivalries.