Ex-RNC Chair Tells Republicans Not to 'Wallow in the Mud' With Kari Lake

A former Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman has urged the party to "get serious" about its future and not "wallow in the mud" with Kari Lake.

Michael Steele's comments came as Lake, a former television news anchor who lost the Arizona governor's race to Democrat Katie Hobbs this past November, traveled across Iowa continuing to promote false claims of election fraud.

"The party needs to get serious about its future," Steele, who chaired the RNC from January 2009 to January 2011, told The Washington Post. "If it thinks it is going to be competitive, it cannot entertain stupidity and denialism. If it doesn't want to be competitive, wallow in the mud with Kari Lake."

Lake made Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 presidential election the centerpiece of her campaign for governor and lost to Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes.

Kari Lake
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks during an election night watch party in Scottsdale, Arizona, on November 8, 2022. She continues to deny her loss in the race to Democrat Katie Hobbs. Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images

Many Republicans blamed Trump and election deniers for the GOP's disappointing midterms performance and now fear that it could harm the party further in 2024. But while other election deniers conceded after losing their races in November, Lake has not. A judge threw out Lake's challenge of her defeat in December—a decision she is appealing.

Lake is rumored to be weighing a Senate run, but she said this past Friday that she is "focused 100 percent" on her ongoing court battle in Arizona.

"My number one focus is taking control of the Arizona governorship because we deserve that and we fought for that and we voted for that," she said.

At stops in Iowa on Friday and Saturday, she continued to claim the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that voting was rigged against her in the Arizona race.

"If you lose, lose with dignity. You shake the other person's hand and walk away," she told an audience in Bettendorf, relaying advice given to her by her father. "I didn't lose, so I'm not doing that."

Although Iowa's first-in-the-nation GOP caucuses are still about a year away, GOP presidential hopefuls will have to respond to Lake's visit to Iowa, Steele said.

Lake and Steele have been contacted by Newsweek for further comment.

The only declared candidate in the 2024 race is Trump, but he has not visited Iowa since announcing his run and kickstarted his campaign in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Others weighing campaigns reportedly include former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.