PHOENIX, AZ – Arizona Republican Kari Lake will take the stage for what would have been the state’s lone gubernatorial debate Wednesday, but her Democrat opponent, Katie Hobbs, refuses to participate.
Arizona’s Clean Elections Commission (CEC) worked with both campaigns to set up a debate that satisfied the candidates. Despite the effort, Hobbs refuses to share the stage with Lake. The CEC granted Lake a one-on-one interview with Arizona PBS but denied one for Hobbs because she refused to debate.
On Wednesday, Phoenix-based journalist Hank Stephenson reported that PBS circumvented the CEC’s decision and granted Hobbs a one-on-one interview next week.
Hearing @AZPBS has split with @AZCCEC and is offering @katiehobbs a one-on-one 30-minute interview next week — just like she wanted — in spite of her refusing to show up for tonight's debate with @KariLake.
— Hank Stephenson (@hankdeanlight) October 12, 2022
Lake’s team blasted the “supposedly-objective tax-payer funded entity” in a statement:
We just learned hours before airtime of tonight’s Clean Elections Commission debate that PBS has unilaterally caved to Katie Hobbs’ demands and bailed her out from the consequences of her cowardly decision to avoid debating me on stage. As the CEC’s broadcast partner, PBS’ actions are a slap in the face to the commissioners of the CEC and a betrayal of their efforts to put on an actual debate. Remember, the CEC specifically voted against Katie Hobbs’ demand for her own one-on-one interview, but PBS went behind the CEC’s backs and agreed to give her one anyway. That’s because PBS, a supposedly-objective taxpayer-funded entity, is working overtime to help elect Katie Hobbs, who needs all the help she can get. PBS has now become complicit in Katie Hobbs’ attempt to destroy twenty years of gubernatorial debate tradition. We are actively working with the Clean Elections Commission and we continue to push for an opportunity for a real debate with both candidates on stage.
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) October 12, 2022
On Wednesday morning, Hobbs appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, where she explained that she would not debate because Lake will make a “spectacle” and confirmed the special arrangements that PBS is making for her.
“It doesn’t do any service to the voters in terms of deciding, looking at the contrast between us and how we’re going to govern if all she’s going to do is shout over me and interrupt me and spew lies?” said Hobbs.
“In fact, PBS is giving me the same format that Kari Lake has. She certainly won’t go unanswered. We looked for opportunities for formats where I can talk directly to voters without the spectacle that Kari Lake is going to create. We’re going to have the same opportunity here that she has as well,” she added.
Hobbs’s campaign first announced that she would not share the stage with Lake on September 11. The following day, Lake told the CEC to keep the invitation deadline open until the very moment the debate was scheduled to start in case Hobbs decided to attend.
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) September 13, 2022
“Should you grow a spine between now and October 12, there will be an empty chair waiting for you on the debate stage,” said the Republican.
Lake’s interview with Ted Simons airs at 5:00 p.m. MST.