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Kari Lake travels to Mar-a-Lago fresh from the expected loss in Arizona

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Kari Lake, who was expected to lose her race for governor of Arizona on Monday, traveled to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida on Thursday, according to two people familiar with the activity.

One of the people said she received a standing ovation when she attended a luncheon hosted at the club by the America First Policy Institute, a think tank founded last year by Trump allies and former members of his administration. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private events.

The think tank is holding a “Gala and Experience” at Trump’s club on Thursday and Friday. An agenda says the purpose of the event is to “ensure policy is prepared and finalized for new sessions of Congress and the state House.”

Lake has not admitted defeat. The visit to Mar-a-Lago, as the vote count continues in Arizona, indicates that she is already taking steps to maintain her profile in the former president’s job. Her support could also affect Trump, who this week launched his 2024 presidential campaign amid criticism for his role in the party’s disappointing performance in the midterm elections.

Lake, a former TV news anchor, modeled her bid for governor on Trump’s campaigns and repeated his false claims that he was cheated in his 2020 reelection. She speaks regularly with the former president, according to current and former campaign advisers. The former president visited her campaign’s “war room” on Sunday to express disbelief that Republicans fell short of the vote and to support her and other GOP candidates.

Lake was expected to lose the race Monday to Democrat Katie Hobbs, the current secretary of state. On Tuesday, Lake responded to Trump’s announcement of a third bid for the White House by declaring on Twitter that he had her “full and total approval”! Lake was often discussed as a possible vice presidential pick for Trump, though she insisted on the campaign trail that she planned to serve a full term as governor if elected.

Now that she has been defeated for state office, her political path is less clear. On Thursday, she told her supporters on social media that “we’re still in this battle,” denouncing Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and more than half of the state’s voters, for Election Day issues with defective printers.

In the early hours of Election Day, printers at 70 of the county’s 223 polling stations produced ballots with ink too light to be read by vote counting machines. That caused ballots to be rejected by the machines. Voters were told to either wait in line, travel to another voting location, or deposit their ballots in secure boxes that were transferred to downtown Phoenix and counted. County officials sent technicians to fix the settings on the printers experiencing the problems. While technicians were at other polling places, they also proactively changed settings on printers, a county spokesman said. County officials plan to investigate the cause of the printer problems in the coming weeks.

Problems with some voting machines in Maricopa County, Arizona, led to unfounded allegations of voter fraud. Democracy reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez explains. (Video: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Casey Silvestri/The Washington Post)

Lake and her allies have portrayed the issues as “voter suppression,” a theme that could become central to the GOP’s legal efforts in statewide races. But county officials have repeatedly said no one was denied the right to vote and noted several instances of Republicans spreading misinformation about using the secure boxes on Election Day, despite such boxes having been used for years.

Her campaign also released a series of video testimonials from voters claiming she was denied the chance to vote. They include a link to a fundraising page for Lake’s campaign.

A judge denied a request by Republicans to extend voting hours on Election Day because of the issues, finding no one was prevented from voting. Lake’s campaign is weighing its legal options in coordination with Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for attorney general who is chasing his Democratic opponent but whose race has not yet been declared, according to those with knowledge of the deliberations.

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