Election /

Katie Hobbs Will Not Debate Kari Lake in Arizona Gubernatorial Race

'It’s becoming clearer everyday that Hobbs' strategy is to hide from me, the press, and the voters,' Lake tweeted

Arizona’s secretary of state Katie Hobbs will not take part in a debate against Republican Kari Lake.

Hobbs, the Democratic candidate for governor, and Lake both took part in a town-hall style event hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce last week. In consecutive appearances on stage, the women answered questions from members of the public but did not converse with one another. 

Hobbs’ campaign manager Nicole DeMont repeatedly called Lake a “conspiracy theorist” amid negotiations regarding the upcoming debate’s format.

On Sept. 11, DeMont announced the Democrat has “respectfully [declined] the invitation” to debate Lake, a former television news anchor.

Unfortunately, debating a conspiracy theorist like Kari Lake – whose entire campaign platform is to cause enormous chaos and make Arizona the subject of national ridicule – would only lead to constant interruptions, pointless distractions, and childish name-calling,” said DeMont in a statement. “Arizonans deserve so much better than Kari Lake, and that’s why we’re confident Katie Hobbs will be elected our next governor.”

Last week, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission rejected Hobb’s request to change the Oct. 12 debate into separate interview appearances. 

The organization has held debates for state legislative positions for roughly 20 years. Timothy LoSota, an attorney for Lake, had argued that changing the debate format could hurt the organization’s credibility. He added that the change would allow “any candidate to bow out and still get air time,” per 12 News

Prior to winning her party’s primary, Hobbs also declined to take part in the Clean Election debate with her challenger, Marco Lopez. Her decision was viewed by some as a disservice to Arizona voters.

Is it really too much to ask that she spend 60 minutes demonstrating why she’s the strongest candidate in the race?” wrote Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic. “Arizona voters are choosing a new governor for the first time in eight years. We need a leader who has a plan to improve our schools – one who can figure out a way to get water out of rocks and deal with the complicated and often competing challenges and demands that come with being a growing and diverse state.

Lake’s campaign said that she will “keep her promise to the voters” and appear at the debate even if Hobbs is not there.

“The empty chair across from her will show Arizonans just how little Katie Hobbs cares about them,” Ross Trumble, a Lake campaign spokesman, told AP News

“It’s becoming clearer everyday that Hobbs’ strategy is to hide from Me, the Press, and the Voters throughout the entirety of this campaign and run out the clock on the people of Arizona,” Lake wrote of her opponent in a Sept. 8 tweet. “ Fortunately, the Clean Election Commission refused to play into her game and voted down her proposal for a town hall safe space.”

All other candidates for statewide office have agreed to participate in the commission’s televised debates.

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