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Republican Mark Lamb blasts Kari Lake's lack of experience in U.S. Senate primary debate

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb makes his case to be the Republican nominee for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat on June 26, 2024.
Arizona Media Association + Arizona Local News Foundation
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb makes his case to be the Republican nominee for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat on June 26, 2024.

Kari Lake may be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in Arizona’s U.S. Senate race, but on Wednesday night, she ceded the stage to her GOP rival, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.

Lake declined to participate in a debate, hosted by the nonpartisan Citizen Clean Elections Commission, against Lamb. A third, longshot GOP primary candidate, Elizabeth Jean Reye, did not respond in time to participate, according to the commission.

That left Lamb with 30 minutes to make the case that he, not Lake, is the candidate best equipped to take back the Senate seat for Republicans in November.

“Right now, I'm standing up here alone. I've stood alone on many issues across this state, including COVID mask mandates, vaccine mandates,” Lamb said in his opening remarks. “I've proven that I will stand alone for you in Washington, D.C. If those other folks aren't here tonight, you can't expect them to stand up for you in Washington, D.C.”

Lamb touted his experience as an elected sheriff who’s built up a profile as a tough-on-immigration law officer.

As for Lake, a former television news anchor, Lamb said she “didn't have the right experience to do the job.”

“There's no other candidate that's managed a large budget like myself. And there's nobody that understands the rule of law in this race like I do,” Lamb said.

That Lake declined to participate in the debate came as no surprise.

After launching her campaign last fall with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, Lake has mostly avoided addressing Lamb’s candidacy, and instead focused her attacks on Congressman Ruben Gallego, who is running unopposed for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination.

During the debate, Lamb warned that Lake — who lost her campaign for governor in 2022 — might repeat that fate if she’s again nominated by Republicans in a statewide election.

“We have got to send the right person to the general election,” Lamb said. “I have no doubt and poll after poll confirms that I'm the right person to send to the general election.”

Arizona Debates: U.S. Senate - Republican Primary

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.