Matt Salmon backs Karrin Taylor Robson over Kari Lake after dropping governor bid

This undated photo provided by the Karrin for Arizona Campaign, shows Karrin Taylor Robson. Former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for Arizona governor Tuesday, June 28, 2022, a move that comes a week before early ballots are mailed out and leaves just two top contenders in the GOP contest. Salmon was widely seen as trailing former TV news anchor Kari Lake and developer Karrin Taylor Robson. (Karrin For Arizona Campaign via AP)

Former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon on Wednesday threw his support behind Republican Arizona governor candidate Karrin Taylor Robson over former TV news personality Kari Lake, a decision that came a day after Salmon dropped his own primary bid for governor.

Salmon dropped out after determining he had no chance of pulling out a victory in the GOP primary and said he did not want to drain votes from Robson.

Lake has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and is widely seen as the race frontrunner. But Robson has been gaining ground as she wins backing from traditional Republicans and GOP groups and pours money into a months-long advertising effort.

Salmon announced his endorsement of Robson on KTAR radio’s Mike Broomhead show.

“I’m going to work my tail off to get Karrin Taylor Robson elected as governor of Arizona because I actually believe that with all the challenges that we have as a state … we can’t afford to get it wrong,” he said.

Salmon ticked off major campaign issues such as border security, K-12 education, and water supplies that he said were “incredibly existential issues to us as a state.”

“And I believe that we’ve got to have somebody that actually has a track record of getting things done,” Salmon said. “And somebody we can trust as a real true conservative like Karrin Taylor Robson.”

Salmon was widely seen as trailing Lake and Robson, a developer who resigned from the board that oversees Arizona’s three public universities when she decided to run for the Republican nomination for governor.

Primary ballots for the August 2 primary will be mailed out next Wednesday, and Salmon’s name will still appear on them. Two lesser-known Republicans will also appear on the ballot.

Lake, Robson, and candidates Paola Tulliani Zen and Scott Neely are set to participate in a televised debate sponsored by Arizona’s Clean Elections Commission on Wednesday evening. The debate will be broadcast on Arizona PBS at 5 p.m.

Term limits bar current Republican Gov. Doug Ducey from running again in 2022. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez are seeking the Democratic nomination.