Arizona will seldom have moments of clarity like this, so let’s get to the brutal facts.
One of our two-major party candidates for governor has just endorsed a man who hates Jewish people, despises gay people and wants no Black or brown immigrants in this country.
Jarrin Jackson is no casual bigot. He has produced such a stream of internet bile he can only be seen as a committed anti-Semite, homophobe and racist – one of the most vile people in political life, unfit for government and unwelcome in polite society.
And yet Jarrin Jackson, Republican candidate for the Oklahoma state Senate, tweeted on Wednesday that he has won the endorsement of Kari Lake, Arizona Republican candidate for governor. There he was photoshopped together with the smiling Lake, two peas in a tweet.
"I am honored to be endorsed by the #AmericaFirst (and Trump-endorsed) warrior who drained the McCain swamp in Arizona and is now the GOP nominee for governor in Arizona – Kari Lake. She is a rising star and her endorsement is a big deal! Thank you, Kari!"
The damning evidence of a fevered mind
Nearly a full month before Jackson announced his Kari Lake endorsement, reporter Carmen Forman of our sister paper The Oklahoman provided an expansive view of Jackson’s fevered mind.
On the social media app Telegram and other forums, Jackson said:
* Using the phrase LGBTQ “is using language designed by Satan.”
* “LGBTQ is the gateway to pedophilia.”
* “Call me old fashioned, but I don’t want a society of homosexuals.”
* “(Being gay) is the most disgusting, despicable, stupid blehh (makes gagging noise) thing ever. Insert barf emoji. And yet, we’re supposed to celebrate this and supposed to treat it like it’s normal?"
* "All Jews will go to hell if they don't believe the gospel of Jesus Christ … just like everybody else."
* "I love Jews because Christ told me to, not because they deserve it."
* "I'm not beholden to Jews or any other group."
* "I ain't owned by the Jews. I worship Jesus Christ. He's my Messiah."
* "Outline & detail the evil. Amen. ...The Jews, Illuminati, Covid shots kill. Rothschilds. Communists. Woke pastors. Social gospel. Christ will chuck a bunch of stuff in the fire."
Two-and-a-half weeks before The Oklahoman published its story, the website Media Matters and its writer Eric Hananoki reported that Jackson had said:
* He does not want Hispanic and Black immigrants in the United States because he wants “America to stay American.”
* “He ‘largely’ agrees with the conspiracy theories that Jews are ‘taking over the world’ and that they are attempting to get rid of white people through immigration and miscegenation (cohabitation between a white person and a member of another race).”
* “The Jews” are evidence that “evil exists.”
* He supports “a conspiracy theory called the Kalergi Plan which claims that elites, especially Jewish people, are trying to rid the world of white people."
A full four weeks before Lake endorsed Jackson, his own GOP Party chairman in Oklahoma, A.J. Ferate, told the Oklahoman, "Any sort of antisemitism that may exist within the Republican Party has no place within the Republican Party, and I will not tolerate it."
Lake had plenty of time to vet Jackson
Again, that was FOUR WEEKS ago.
Four weeks in which the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona had to figure out that the man asking for her endorsement is the textbook definition of a racist, antisemite and homophobe all pre-packaged and spring loaded to salute Nazi-era theories on race purity.
When this all became clear on Friday, Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego tweeted, “Only reason @KariLake supports an antisemite or a homophobe for office is because she is both.”
Lake shot back with a tweeted photo of presumably Gallego and fellow Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell sitting bare-chested on camels somewhere in what looks like the Middle East.
“Are we playing the guilt by association game, @RubenGallego?” she wrote. “How's your friend Eric doing? Did he introduce you to Fang Fang?”
The reference was to accused Chinese spy, Christine Fang, who had raised funds for Swalwell’s 2014 campaign and placed an intern in his congressional office before the U.S. government warned Swalwell of Fang’s background and he cut off ties.
At the time, Republicans tried to expel Swalwell from his assignment on the House Intelligence Committee, but Democratic leadership and the FBI insisted Swalwell had done nothing wrong.
Regardless, Kari Lake cannot describe her connection to Jarrin Jackson as mere “association.” This wasn’t some anonymous neo-Nazi who had jostled his way into a random snapshot with her.
She endorsed the man.
She stamped her imprimatur on the butt-end of the ham. And she had plenty of time to know who she was endorsing.
An earthquake in the governor’s race
To understand the jaw-dropping consequences of this endorsement, understand that only 24 hours earlier, Kari Lake had announced the most important Arizona endorsement of her young political career – Jerry Colangelo.
Jerry Colangelo is a name synonymous with Arizona. He built modern Phoenix. The businessman and former owner of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks and the director of USA Basketball is one of the most respected people in this state and in American sports. He already has a statue in his honor at Grand Canyon University.
To a free-wheeling, shoot-from-the-hip eccentric like Lake, the name Colangelo gives her ballast and respectability.
Yet a mere day after she snagged that prize, Lake has embarrassed Colangelo. He now will have to answer why his candidate for governor is goose-stepping with Jarrin Jackson, the unapologetic Jew-hater and gay-basher from the Great Plains.
By the end of day Friday, The Jewish Community Relations of Greater Phoenix was already out with a tweet calling on Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, GOP candidate for secretary of state, “to rescind their endorsements and denounce Jackson's vile antisemitic and homophobic words. There is no room for support for antisemitic bigots from those who want to lead Arizona.”
Like former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, Kari Lake is unpredictable and cocky. Above all she is defiant. So she is probably resisting any call to step back from Jackson and denounce her own endorsement of the man.
But she will.
She will disavow him or she will watch her candidacy for governor go down in flames.
The attention on this is going to get hot
The national media is just beginning to stir on this issue. In short order the full force and fury of some of the country’s most powerful and respected civil rights organizations will want to know if Arizona is about to elect a governor who embraces anti-Semitism, homophobia and racism.
They’ll be calling the offices of Jerry Colangelo and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who have attached their names to the Lake campaign, asking if they've signed up for these attitudes.
All three will be asking themselves, if she’s that careless, that reckless on political endorsements, what is she going to do next to embarrass me?
The Lake endorsement of Jackson will lead to a more intense investigation of Lake’s strong association and friendship with Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers, who has crossed so many bright lines on anti-Semitism and white nationalism while threatening with retaliation her own colleagues in the Arizona State Senate that they finally censured her in March.
Wendy Rogers also endorsed Jarrin Jackson, which is like endorsing her identical twin.
Kari Lake will disavow Jackson and rescind her endorsement or she will be hounded until Election Day by Jewish, gay, African American and Latino Americans and all of their allies in Arizona.
She will do it or she will come to emblemize bigotry and lose the independent voters and moderate Republicans she needs to win the governor’s race.
This is a key moment in this election.
This was a statement about the decision-making judgment of Kari Lake.
If she continues to endorse the man who says "all Jews will go to hell," she'll prove without any doubt she is unfit to be governor of Arizona.
Phil Boas is an editorial columnist with The Arizona Republic. Email him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kari Lake's backing of gay-bashing antisemite will cost her election