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Katie Hobbs hasn't agreed to debate Kari Lake. She proposes this alternative instead

By Ben Giles, Nick Sanchez
Published: Friday, September 2, 2022 - 4:48pm
Updated: Saturday, September 3, 2022 - 5:07pm

Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0
Katie Hobbs (left) and Kari Lake.

Democrat Katie Hobbs has yet to agree to debate her opponent in the Arizona governor's race, Kari Lake, and instead proposed back-to-back town hall-style interviews that will keep her separated from the conservative firebrand.

Hobbs made the counterproposal in a Friday press release, the same day the Citizens Clean Elections Commission set as a deadline for her to decide whether or not to participate in a traditional one-on-one debate.

In a letter to the commission, Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, described her proposed format as a better chance for voters “to evaluate candidates for public office and hear their visions for the future of our state – without constant interruptions, pointless distractions, childish name-calling, tired conspiracy theories and demonstrably false accusations.”

Hobbs is now the only statewide candidate who has not agreed to participate. 

Sen. Mark Kelly was given the same Friday deadline, and verbally agreed to the debate on Friday morning, according Gina Roberts, the commission’s voter education director.

In a statement, officials at the commission noted Hobbs’ proposal would “significantly alter the nature of the event.”

“This is the first proposal we have received from the Hobbs campaign and we will review it in due course,” they said.

A spokesman for Hobbs said their idea was not a “take it or leave it proposal,” leaving open the possibility that Hobbs could still agree to the traditional debate.

Hobbs has come under sharp criticism for skirting a debate with Lake. Hobbs also skipped the debate against her primary opponent, Democrat Marco Lopez.

At least one political pollster says Hobbs’ move won’t make a difference in the November election.

“First of all, most people on a race like this are partisan to begin with, so we’re only talking about a relative handful of non-decided people,” said Tempe Pollster Mike O’Neil.

O’Neil says it’s common for leading candidates to decline a debate. Hobbs leads Lake by nearly 2 percentage points in the latest Five Thirty Eight projection.

→ KJZZ's Friday NewsCap: Why Katie Hobbs may be hesitant to take on Kari Lake in an AZ governor debate

Politics Elections