Arizona’s election commission has rejected a proposal by Democrat Katie Hobbs to hold a town hall-style event instead of a debate with Republican Kari Lake.
Hobbs and Lake are in a tight race to be Arizona’s next governor. Recent polling has Lake just edging out Hobbs by less than one point. In recent weeks, the gubernatorial race has become largely about whether or not Arizona voters will have the opportunity to see the two major party candidates debate each ahead of Election Day.
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) voted against a proposal by Hobbs to hold a town hall-style event in which the candidates answer questions separately for 30 minutes each, according to KTAR. The commission gave Hobbs a seven-day deadline to agree to a debate under the general framework; Lake has already agreed. If Hobbs refuses, Lake will be interviewed for 30 minutes on live television.
“We have a format that we have used for a number of years that has been successful, that has given the voters of Arizona the opportunity to compare and contrast the candidates face to face,” Commissioner Mark Kimble said. “It’s incumbent on us to say enough. This is the format that we have set up.”
Hobbs has refused to participate in the typical debate format with Lake, claiming to not want a repeat of the June Republican primary debate that made Arizona the subject of “national ridicule,” according to a letter Hobbs campaign manager Nicole DeMont sent to the commission last week.
“In the GOP primary debate, instead of talking about how she plans to move our state forward, Kari Lake brought almost every single answer back to lies about an election that happened almost two years ago,” the letter said. “Arizonans are tired of partisan conspiracies about the 2020 election. Voters want solutions and a governor with real plans to drive our state forward for everyone.”
Hobbs also refused to debate her Democratic primary opponent, Marco Lopez.
Lake has hammered Hobbs for weeks over her unwillingness to agree to a debate. Lake has mocked Hobbs as a coward for refusing to share a stage with her, a former television news anchor.
“It’s becoming clearer every day 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. Fortunately, the Clean Elections Commission refused to play into her game and voted down her proposal for a town hall safe space,” Lake said in a statement after the commission’s vote.
My official statement on @katiehobbs big loss today: pic.twitter.com/Mso7bA5vxM
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) September 8, 2022