In the final stretch of the race, Ms. Hobbs continually reminded voters of the larger issues at play, underscoring Ms. Lake’s staunch position against abortion and casting her own candidacy as essential to protect the future of elections. She told voters that supporting her amounted to choosing “sanity over chaos.”
For her part, Ms. Lake attacked the news media and campaigned on culture-war issues, barnstorming the state with the other three top Republicans on the ticket and with right-wing supporters, including Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser, and Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
At a campaign rally just days before the election, Ms. Lake invited Wendy Rogers, a state lawmaker, on to the stage. Ms. Rogers was censured by the State Senate after giving a speech at a far-right conference with ties to white supremacy. Referring to Ms. Rogers, Ms. Lake said she would never back away from “fighters who love this state.”
In the end, it was Ms. Lake who struggled to defeat Ms. Hobbs.
Ms. Hobbs finished with a substantial lead Tuesday night, and Ms. Lake failed to overtake her by Wednesday as her campaign and many Republican strategists had anticipated. Over the next few days, Ms. Lake escalated tensions as officials in Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix and is the state’s most populous and politically powerful county, tallied votes, including a record-breaking 290,000 ballots that were dropped off on Election Day.
She and other top Republican candidates made baseless suggestions that election officials were incompetent and hinted at malfeasance. As her path to victory only narrowed, Ms. Lake turned to considering whether to accept defeat, huddling with advisers through the weekend and getting advice from Mr. Trump, who falsely suggested Democrats were trying to steal her victory as they had his in 2020, according to a person familiar with Mr. Trump’s call to the candidate on Sunday.
On his Telegram channel and his social network, Truth Social, on Monday, Mr. Trump appeared to push forward with the theory: “Wow! They just took the election away from Kari Lake. It’s really bad out there!”
The Republican Party of Arizona and other right-wing allies have been preparing for the possibility of a lawsuit, collecting testimonials from voters who claim they had problems at the polls on Tuesday, most related to a printing problem that temporarily prevented tabulators from counting ballots. Republican election officials in Maricopa County have rejected any accusations of fraud or foul play and urged Ms. Lake to tone down her comments, insisting that the long process would ensure accuracy and that the election system was fair.