Trump retains a strong following among many Republicans and his endorsement catapults the former news anchor into clear frontrunner status in the crowded GOP primary field.
Lake is a political newcomer who left her job in March and launched her bid for the Republican nomination for Arizona governor in 2022 in June.
She had been widely seen as a possible candidate and has criticized a media landscape that she contends needs more balance.
Trump said Lake is strong on crime, the border and supports gun rights. He also took a shot at Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is term-limited. Using the expression for “Republican in name only,” Trump said “she will do a far better job than RINO Governor Doug Ducey.”
Ducey certified President Joe Biden’s win in Arizona over Trump last year despite pressure from the then-president to hold off until evidence of illegal voting could be examined.
“Kari will make her wonderful family, and the MAGA movement, very proud,” Trump said in announcing his endorsement. “Kari Lake has my Complete and Total Endorsement. She will be a great Governor for the incredible people of Arizona!”
Arizona Democrats are looking to a changing electorate that rejected Trump in 2020 and consecutive Democratic U.S. Senate wins as signs that their chances in the state are improving.
Republican candidates must curry favor with Trump if they want to win a primary.
Lake has publicly embraced conservative ideals, retweeting the account of the state Senate’s audit of the 2020 election in Arizona and other border states and tweeting about the lack of border security and her opposition to mask mandates.
She also consistently criticizes the media.
She thanked Trump for his endorsement via Twitter.
“This means so much to me because I know how much you love America and how much the people of this country love you!” she wrote.
Four other prominent Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for governor are state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, developer Karrin Taylor Robson, former Congressman Matt Salmon and businessman Steve Gaynor.
Salmon said in a statement that while he respects Trump, Lake “isn’t a conservative or even a Republican, and she certainly isn’t the MAGA candidate in this race.”
He noted Lake is a former Democrat.
MAGA is short for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Three well-known Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination: Marco Lopez, who was one of the youngest people ever elected mayor of a U.S. city and rose rapidly to a senior position in President Barack Obama’s administration; Aaron Lieberman, who resigned his state House seat this month to focus on his gubernatorial bid; and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.