PHOENIX, AZ – Katie Hobbs, who has served as Secretary of State of Arizona since January 2019 and is the Democratic nominee in its 2022 gubernatorial election, is refusing to engage in a proposed October Citizens Clean Election Commission debate with her Republican rival for the office in the November 2022 election, Kari Lake, drawing criticism from some political commentators.
The Citizens Clean Election Commission had offered Hobbs an invitation to go head-to-head with Lake in a debate that would have been broadcast on television, but Hobbs has once again steadfastly refused to do so, as she has done several times in the past.
Her reasoning for not wanting to debate Lake in a public forum, according to Hobbs’ campaign manager, Nicole DeMont, was due to the MAGA Republican candidate’s opposition to abortion and gun control, and her embracement of conspiracy theories spread by former President Donald Trump that widespread election fraud had cost him the 2020 election.
“Secretary Hobbs remains willing and eager to participate in a town hall style event,” DeMont said during a Zoom meeting with Citizens Clean Election Commission officials and A rep. for Lake. “Unfortunately, debating a conspiracy theorist like Kari Lake would just create another spectacle, like we saw in the GOP primary debate. But on top of that, I would just add, you can’t debate a conspiracy theorist and at the last debate, she brought the conversation back to the 2020 election no less than a dozen times.”
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The GOP primary debate featured four candidates who were criticized for constantly talking over, insulting, and interrupting each other.
The Zoom meeting drew some scrutiny when representatives for both candidates strayed from the topic of the debate format and instead began slinging mud on their opposing campaign’s talking points, although DeMont was allowed to go on unchecked for some time as opposed to Lake rep. Timothy LaSota, who was shut down almost immediately.
However, commentators are pointing out that Hobbs’ refusal to debate Lake based on her conservative views ultimately makes her look weak, especially in light of numerous other Democrats running for Arizona office in November against Trump-aligned candidates with similar viewpoints who appear to have no problem going publicly head-to-head with them.
In addition, others have claimed that Hobbs’ public speaking skills would not measure up to the more outgoing Lake’s, and that the Democrat is attempting to avoid embarrassment; however, in running for governor, Hobbs has an obligation to the public to take on all comers, they say.
However, the Citizens Clean Election Commission – which oversees the Citizens Clean Elections Act, a system established in 1998 that offers public funding for election campaigns for candidates running for statewide public offices – has given its staff seven days to try to push Hobbs to participate in the October 12 debate by offering changes to the format.
Hobbs – who also skipped the Clean Elections debate with her Democratic primary challenger, Marco Lopez – is the first candidate to refuse public debates since the Citizens Clean Election Commission was formed, and unfortunately, that may come with consequences; one of them is giving ample fuel to Lake to brand her foe a “coward” while on the campaign trail.
“Facing criticism and taking responsibility for your record in front of the voters is one of the most basic qualifications of leadership,” Lake said. “Hobbs is failing at it spectacularly.”