Hobbs says no to Arizona governor debate with Lake


FILE – Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs speaks to the media before dropping off her primary election ballot, Tuesday, July 21, 2022, in Scottsdale, Ariz. On Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, Hobbs declined to agree to a televised debate with Republican Kari Lake as both seek the Arizona governor’s office, instead proposing individual interviews with the moderator. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX, Ariz. (NewsNation) — Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs announced Sunday that she will not debate GOP opponent Kari Lake in the race to become Arizona’s next governor.

Hobbs’ statement came after more than a week of efforts by her campaign to change the debate into separate, half-hour interviews with the moderator. The Citizens Clean Elections Commission, which has held debates for two decades featuring candidates for statewide and legislative offices, flatly rejected that proposal last week.

Hobbs’ campaign manager, Nicole DeMont, has repeatedly voiced the campaign’s concerns that debating Lake would “just create another spectacle, like we saw in the GOP primary debate.”

FILE – Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Arizona governor, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Democrat Katie Hobbs on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, declined to agree to a televised debate with Lake as both seek the Arizona governor’s office, instead proposing individual interviews with the moderator. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

The Hobbs campaign has consistently called Lake, who has voiced false claims that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from former President Donald Trump, a conspiracy theorist.

“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,” DeMont said in a statement.

The GOP primary debate in July featured four candidates who almost immediately devolved into a free-for-all of talking over and constantly interrupting each other.

Lake, however, has already agreed to a debate and its format and called out Hobbs for refusing to engage, calling her “a coward.” She also said she was ready to hit the stage with Hobbs at any time, let her pick the moderator and write all the questions.

“Kari will keep her promise to the voters and debate,” Trumble said in a statement. “The empty chair across from her will show Arizonans just how little Katie Hobbs cares about them.”

Candidates in tight races across the country have been skipping traditional televised debates this year, with some Republicans declining to participate as they avoid mainstream media events they view as biased and Democrats like Hobbs pointing to raucous GOP primary debates as a reason to avoid them.

The Associated Presss and NewsNation affiliate The Hill contributed to this report.

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