The Colorado Republican Party’s Centennial Dinner, its premier annual fundraising event, is just over a month away. For the second year in a row, the party has tapped an Arizona Republican with national notoriety to headline the event. Kari Lake, who narrowly lost her race for Arizona Governor last year, will be the evening’s keynote speaker.
The GOP’s Centennial Dinners tend to have a notable guest, but Lake’s presence at the event shows a shift further right from the past years. 2021 featured three former Colorado Republican senators, including Cory Gardner. In 2022, under Kristi Burton Brown’s leadership, the keynote was outsourced to another Arizona Republican: Congressman Andy Biggs, a loyalist to Donald Trump who has frequently promoted the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was rigged. Biggs also reportedly asked Trump for a pre-emptive pardon for his role in planning the Washington, D.C. “Stop the Steal” rally which culminated in angered protestors storming the U.S. Capitol.
Like Biggs, Lake is thoroughly loyal to Trump, as well as a proponent of the Big Lie. Election conspiracies formed the backbone of her gubernatorial campaign messaging, with her being one of only two gubernatorial candidates to be endorsed by the national America First Secretary of State Coalition.
During her campaign, Lake preemptively claimed that both the GOP primary election (which she won) and the general election (which she lost) had been rigged against her by the political establishment. Following her narrow loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs, Lake refused to concede, and has spent the past eleven months engaged in legal battles with the state of Arizona, attempting to overturn the results. Supporters in her failed effort to overturn the Nov. 2022 election included Colorado conspiracist Joe Oltmann and members of a QAnon splinter group called the “Scooby Doo Crew,” whose members believe JFK Jr. is still alive.
Lake is expected to run for U.S. Senate in 2024, which would pit her against failed 2022 Senate candidate Blake Masters and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, both of whom have also promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. While Lake has not announced yet whether or not she will run, her official Facebook posted a cryptic video this week referencing the theories, teasing, “Stay tuned.”
If Lake does run, her candidacy could bring in big bucks: according to an analysis by the Arizona Mirror, from her loss in November 2022 to the end of December, Lake raised more than $2.5 million from supporters hoping to fund her legal battle against the state of Arizona.
Those numbers could be tantalizing for the Colorado GOP, which has floundered in fundraising since Dave Williams took charge of the party earlier this year. The Colorado Times Recorder reported last week that the party has recently struggled to raise enough money to cover its expenses.
This would not be the first time Lake has stepped into the Colorado GOP’s politicking. In February, she endorsed embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters in her bid to lead the Colorado GOP. Earlier this month, she sent a letter to the Colorado GOP in support of Williams’ plan to opt out of Colorado’s open primary law, which allows unaffiliated voters to participate in party primary elections.
Lake is not focusing her out-of-state support on Colorado alone. Last weekend, she headlined the Michigan GOP’s Mackinac Conference, alongside QAnon advocate and Sound of Freedom actor Jim Caviezel. The Michigan GOP has similarly struggled in fundraising under the leadership of failed Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo, and has been plagued by infighting, including at least one reported incident of physical violence between members.
The Colorado GOP’s Centennial Dinner has also invited “all major presidential candidates,” though the party has not specified what criteria any of the numerous candidates must meet to be considered “major.” The Associated Press reports that only seven Republican candidates have met the benchmark to be invited to the national party’s second debate this week. Williams, along with other Colorado GOP officials, have staunchly supported Trump’s candidacy.
Williams did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Lake’s involvement, or on the Colorado GOP’s criteria for inviting presidential candidates. This article will be updated with any response received.