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Katie Hobbs will not participate in gubernatorial debate with Kari Lake

Hobbs sent a letter to the Arizona Citizen Clean Elections Commission Sunday confirming her decision not to attend.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast. 

Democrat Katie Hobbs confirmed Sunday that she will not participate in a debate with her opponent in the governor's race, Republican Kari Lake.

The state commission that sets up candidate debates on Thursday rejected Hobbs' request to change the debate with Lake into separate interviews with a moderator.

RELATED: Panel rejects Katie Hobbs effort to change Arizona governor debate

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission instead gave its staff seven days to try to persuade Hobbs, currently secretary of state, to participate in the planned Oct. 12 debate by offering minor changes to the format.

President and CEO of the Arizona Broadcasters Association Chris Kline said Hobbs sent a letter to the Arizona Citizen Clean Elections Commission Sunday confirming her decision not to attend.

Hobbs' campaign manager addressed the commission before its decision, pointing to Lake's performance in the raucous June 29 Republican primary debate, which she devolved into the chaos that she said made Arizona the subject of national ridicule.

“I think it’s pretty clear that she only wants to create another spectacle like we saw in the GOP primary debate,” campaign manager Nicole DeMont said. “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.”

The statement released by the Hobbs campaign on Sunday mainly repeated those points and said she “remains willing and eager to participate in a town hall style event,” like one put on by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week where she and Lake were questioned separately.

Lake had already agreed to the debate and its format and called out Hobbs for refusing to engage, calling her “a coward.” She also said she was ready to hit the stage with Hobbs at any time, let her pick the moderator and write all the questions.

Hobbs also skipped the Clean Elections debate with her Democratic primary challenger, Marco Lopez. He was instead interviewed alone.

Lake’s campaign spokesman, Ross Trumble, said that the campaign expects the same arrangement, although that was not certain Sunday evening.

“Kari will keep her promise to the voters and debate," Trumble said in a statement. “The empty chair across from her will show Arizonans just how little Katie Hobbs cares about them.”

The debates put on by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission have been a must-attend campaign appearance for years. The scheduled Oct. 12 governor's debate was to be moderated by Ted Simons, a veteran interviewer who has overseen countless Clean Elections debates since joining Arizona PBS as host of the public affairs show “Arizona Horizon” in 2007. In addition to Arizona PBS, TV and radio stations across the state had planned to broadcast it and stream it on their websites.

All other statewide candidates have agreed to participate in the televised Clean Elections debates, including Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who will debate Republican Blake Masters on Oct. 6.

Decision 2022

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