Democrat Arizona gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs on Sunday again declined an invitation to debate Republican opponent Kari Lake ahead of the November election.
Hobbs, the state’s current secretary of state, has proposed instead a town hall-style event in which each candidate is questioned separately. Last week, Hobbs and Lake participated in this style of event in a forum hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
However, the Democrat refuses to debate Lake, even after the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, a state commission that monitors and organizes debates, rejected a request from Hobbs last week to do separate town hall forums.
“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.
“Arizonans deserve so much better than Kari Lake, and that’s why we’re confident Katie Hobbs will be elected our next governor,” the statement continued. “We must respectfully decline the invitation.”
The commission said Thursday it had given the candidates a week to agree to minor changes for the debate scheduled on October 12. The statement from the Hobbs campaign indicated that it is unlikely a debate will be held.
The Hobbs campaign is concerned that a debate with Lake would be a repeat of the Republican primary debate, when the now-GOP nominee embraced former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.
Lake, a former TV news anchor, also suggested that Democrats would cheat in the 2022 election.
The Hobbs campaign statement mentioning a potentially chaotic debate with Lake is in reference to the GOP primary debate that featured four candidates repeatedly talking over and interrupting each other.
Hobbs had also skipped the debate with her Democratic primary opponent Marco Lopez, who instead participated in a solo interview.
The Republican said she has already agreed to debate rules.
“It’s becoming clearer everyday [sic] 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 said in a statement Thursday. “Fortunately, the Clean Elections Commission refused to play into her game and voted down her proposal for a town hall safe space.”
Lake said Hobbs is welcome to join her for the October 12 debate if she “grows a spine” between now and then.
The Arizona governor’s race is projected as a toss-up.