Democrat Katie Hobbs Says She Won’t Debate Republican Kari Lake For AZ Governor
TOLLESON, ARIZONA - AUGUST 02: Arizona Secretary of State and candidate for governor Katie Hobbs speaks to reporters at a news conference on August 02, 2022 in Tolleson, Arizona. Hobbs is up against Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and lobbyist Karrin Taylor Robson in this year's primary. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Democrat Katie Hobbs will not debate Republican Kari Lake in the race to be the next governor of Arizona, Hobbs’ campaign announced Sunday.

Hobbs announcement comes after Arizona’s election commission declined her campaign’s request to reformat the debate into an event that wouldn’t have the two candidates facing off. The commission voted down Hobbs’ proposal last week and gave her campaign a week to work with Lake’s campaign to make minor changes to the debate format.

“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,” Hobbs campaign manager Nicole DeMont said in a statement. “We must respectfully decline the invitation” to debate.

Hobbs, who also skipped a debate during the Democratic primary, requested that the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) hold a “town hall-style” event where each candidate is interviewed for 30-minutes each back-to-back. She said Sunday that she remains “willing and eager” to participate in such an event.

Lake repeatedly mocked Hobbs for her reticence to debate. Last week after the commission’s decision, Lake said in a statement 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 campaign spokesman Ross Trumble said in a statement after Hobbs announced her withdrawal that Lake would keep her commitment to Arizona voters. “Kari will keep her promise to the voters and debate,” Trumble told FOX 10. “The empty chair across from her will show Arizonans just how little Katie Hobbs cares about them.”

The CCEC voted Thursday to reject Hobbs’ proposal for a new debate format. “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 at the time. “It’s incumbent on us to say enough. This is the format that we have set up.”

Lake and Hobbs are running neck-in-neck to be the next governor of Arizona. Polling released on Friday from Emerson College has Lake and Hobbs tied at 46%.

According to the poll, Lake is leading Hobbs by two points in voter favorability 48% to 46%. Lake’s unfavourability rating is also higher, however. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they had a somewhat or very unfavorable view of Lake versus 44% who said the same of Hobbs.

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