WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Mike Pence on Monday endorsed Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson, putting him at odds with former President Donald Trump, who is backing another GOP contender, Kari Lake.
"As Arizona Democrats pursue the reckless Biden-Harris agenda, Karrin Taylor Robson is the only candidate for Governor that will keep Arizona’s border secure and streets safe, empower parents and create great schools, and promote conservative values," Pence said in a statement shared by Robson's campaign in a tweet.
Robson "is the best choice for Arizona's future, and I am proud to support her," Pence added in the statement. His endorsement comes about two weeks before the state's primary election.
Pence will appear in Arizona on Friday alongside Robson at a border security event with Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, which has endorsed Robson.
Robson praised the former vice president, calling him "a warrior for the sanctity of Life; limited government; law & order; opportunity for all; & the knowledge that our freedoms are granted by God."
"Modern politics is full of charlatans & fakes, but VP Pence is the genuine article," she added. "He has never wavered in his conservative beliefs & commitment to our Constitution, & left a rock-solid legacy as Gov to which I will aspire."
The gubernatorial primary race has become a proxy war between supporters of Trump, who has hinted at running for president again in 2024, and the GOP establishment, including Pence, who could also launch a bid for the GOP primary. This isn't Pence's first split from Trump in a major GOP primary. In Georgia’s gubernatorial race, Pence endorsed incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, who wound up winning the nomination, while Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue lost.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a critic of Trump, has also endorsed Robson to succeed him. He criticized Lake in an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," saying her Trump-mimicking claims that the 2020 election was stolen "is all an act. She’s been putting on a show for some time now. And we will see if the voters of Arizona buy it."
Lake has been the front-runner since entering the contest, though Robson has spent substantially more money and earned other top GOP endorsements in the state as she has mounted a comeback in some polling in recent weeks.