PHOENIX — Arizona's two-month-long debate drama in the governor's race came to a close Sunday.
Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake got the 30-minute, televised interview that was postponed two weeks ago.
Lake was interviewed by conservative radio host Mike Broomhead on AZTV, a locally owned station that broadcasts in metro Phoenix and Northern Arizona.
The reason for Lake's delayed interview was a dispute over Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs' getting an interview she wasn't entitled to, after rejecting a formal debate sponsored by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
Early voting started 11 days ago in Arizona. Election Day is 16 days away on Nov. 8.
Polling averages indicate the race between Lake, a former TV news anchor in Phoenix, and Hobbs, Arizona's secretary of state, is a tossup.
Here are the top takeaways from Lake's interview:
Conflicting message on elections
Lake is perhaps the most prominent and persistent Republican candidate in the country pushing the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump.
Several days before she won the Aug. 2 Republican primary, Lake claimed she had evidence of "cheating." She has never provided that evidence.
During the Broomhead interview, Lake pushed conflicting messages: sowing doubt about the midterm election in which she's on the ballot while urging people to get out and vote.
When asked whether she was confident that Arizona would have a fair election, Lake responded: "We're seeing problem after problem...I wish I could sit here and say I have complete faith in the system. I don't have faith in the system."
Broomhead followed up: If she wins, why should Lake be confident that she won, and why should anybody vote if the election's not fair?
Lake said the solution to alleged voting problems she described was more voting: "We've got to vote in droves... I believe we can outvote some of the problems."
Exceptions in abortion laws?
Lake dodged a question on which of Arizona's two existing abortion laws she would prefer - the ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy that took effect in September, or the near-total ban - dating to 1864 - that's now hung up in court.
"We're going to follow the laws on the book, and we don't know at the end of the day right now where that stands," she said.
When Broomhead asked whether Lake would sign legislation allowing exceptions in cases of incest or rape - neither law has that exception - Lake claimed: "I believe the 15-week bill does have that. I know people say it doesn't."
Her explanation didn't clarify the statement. She went on to describe scenarios in which women who were raped or victims of incest would be helped through a pregnancy.
"The real death sentence should go to the person who rapes, not a baby," she said.
Lake claimed more rapists would be "locked up" as a result of new abortion laws. "I think what will happen as we see new laws taking place or seeing babies being protected, we're going to be locking up people who are rapists, and that's a good thing that could come out of it."
Border policy vs. super bowl
Lake said she believed she would have the authority as governor to declare an invasion at the border.
Broomhead noted the Super Bowl will be held in Glendale in February. Would Lake be concerned about potential blowback from the NFL over an invasion declaration?
"You want to tell me that a bunch of football teams owned by billionaires are OK with fentanyl pouring across our border and ... killing our young people?" Lake said.
"If the NFL is OK with that, they've got to do some soul searching."
Experts say Lake's "declaration" would violate U.S. Supreme Court precedent and federal law. According to the Arizona Republic, her staff has acknowledge a declaration would be met by a federal lawsuit.
Avoids questions on dreamers
Broomhead asked how the country should handle the continuing uncertainty over the fate of Dreamers, undocumented residents who were brought into the United States as children. The 10-year-old DACA program that protects them from deportation has been hung up in the courts.
"I'm running for governor of Arizona, that's a federal issue, right? And so I don't need to decide that. But what I can do is keep people from coming across the border and that's what I plan to do."
Lake wasn't asked about Proposition 308 on the November ballot, which would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Arizona's public universities and community colleges. In 2006, Arizona voters banned all state benefits for undocumented residents.
End state's standardized tests?
Lake reiterated her belief that Arizona's universal voucher expansion would force the public schools to change the way they educate children. The Empowerment Scholarship Account program gives families $7,000 per child to pay for parochial or private school, as well as other activities.
Lake also indicated she would try to do away with Arizona's standardized tests.
"There's nothing worse than when you can tell a teacher is just teaching to the test," she said. "You're actually not teaching the children. And so we're going to pull that kind of program where we're not having to teach to the test anymore. We're going to actually stimulate our children's brains."
'Wean' cities off taxes
Lake has vowed to eliminate municipalities' taxes on groceries and rent, in order to give Arizonans a break from high inflation. (The state doesn't tax groceries or rent.)
Lake said the state would reimburse governments for the loss of what amounts to $400 million in tax revenue. The taxes help pay for public safety and other basic services in many cities and towns that don't have large tax bases.
The goal, Lake said, is to "wean" cities and towns off the tax revenue over five years, by helping them come up with a plan to live without it. She said Arizona's growth would help make up for the lost tax revenue.
When Lake rolled out the plan last month, a Lake policy adviser said the state had a $5 billion surplus, more than enough to cover the lost revenue.
But according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee - the state Legislature's independent financial analyst - the next governor will have a $2.8 billion surplus to work with. Within two years, according to JLBC data, the projected surplus would cover less than half the lost tax revenue.
Refused to take media questions
Lake spoke to reporters for two minutes after her interview taping on Saturday but refused to take questions. Lake said she had to get to another event.
She has criticized Hobbs relentlessly for avoiding reporters' questions after Hobbs' one-on-one gubernatorial interview on Arizona PBS last week.
Lake's interview was taped Saturday afternoon for broadcast at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Under guidelines set by the debate sponsor, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, media attending the taping Saturday weren't allowed to record the interview but were permitted to report what they heard during the interview, as well as comments by Lake afterward.
Makes up for postponed interview
The Clean Elections Commission interview on AZTV makes up for a scheduled one-on-one interview with Lake on Oct. 12 on Arizona PBS.
That interview was suspended by the commission after the media reported that PBS had given Hobbs a one-on-one interview, in apparent disregard of the public TV station's debate agreement with the Clean Elections Commission.
Under Clean Elections rules, Hobbs wasn't entitled to an interview after she rejected a debate with Lake.
PBS' 30-minute interview with Hobbs was broadcast on Oct. 18 on its "Arizona Horizon" program, without sponsorship by the Clean Elections Commission.
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