“I received an ultimatum from Lake’s team: resign today or face the release of a new, more damaging recording,” Mr. DeWit wrote in the statement. “I am truly unsure of its contents, but considering our numerous past open conversations as friends, I have decided not to take the risk. I am resigning as Lake requested, in the hope that she will honor her commitment to cease her attacks, allowing me to return to the business sector — a field I find much more logical and prefer over politics.”

Ms. Lake’s team then pushed back.

“No one from the Kari Lake campaign threatened or blackmailed DeWit,” Garrett Ventry and Caroline Wren, senior advisers to Ms. Lake, said in a statement, adding that the tape showed that Mr. DeWit “attempted to bribe Kari Lake,” but “thankfully Kari is an extremely ethical person who rejected DeWit’s multiple attempts to offer her money and corporate board seats in exchange for Kari not running for public office.”

Mr. DeWit said that hopes of Ms. Lake’s bowing out of the Senate race stemmed from concerns about her electability in a purple state. If Ms. Lake defeats Mark Lamb, a sheriff, in the Republican primary as she is widely expected to, she could be in for a tough fight against her likely Democratic opponent, Representative Ruben Gallego. The race has extra complexity as Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat-turned-independent, could still decide to seek re-election.

“The interest of myself and any other people in wanting Kari to consider sitting on the sidelines for a cycle purely revolved around her limited appeal with moderates and independents, and her being a drag on the entire ticket,” Mr. DeWit said in a text message. “My desire as party chairman is to put forth the best slate of candidates, and Mark Lamb has a broader appeal and positive approach.”

Ms. Wren, in a post on X, said Mr. DeWit’s defense amounted to acknowledging “that his Never-Trump friends back in DC didn’t want Kari Lake to run for Senate” and that he went to Ms. Lake’s house “and tried to bribe her out of running for office.” (Mr. DeWit, Arizona’s former state treasurer and the state campaign chair for Mr. Trump when he ran in 2016, said the people who did not want Ms. Lake to run “are actually very pro-Trump and think she could hurt his chances.”)



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