The Arizona Clean Elections Commission (CEC) announced Monday a new time and partnership for the previously rescheduled gubernatorial debate following Arizona PBS’s (AZPBS) decision to give Democrat gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs her own solo interview.
“Clean Elections has partnered with KAZT/AZTV7 to broadcast our gubernatorial event on Sunday, October 23rd at 5pm. Both campaigns have been informed,” the CEC tweeted.
Clean Elections has partnered with KAZT/AZTV7 to broadcast our gubernatorial event on Sunday, October 23rd at 5pm. Both campaigns have been informed and additional details for the media and voters on how to watch are forthcoming.
— AZ Clean Elections (@AZCCEC) October 18, 2022
The CEC and AZPBS have partnered to bring Arizonans televised debates for years, until this election cycle. Hobbs refused to debate her opponent, Republican Kari Lake, in person, and the CEC debate was no exception. Because of her refusal, Hobbs chose to miss out on the chance to present and defend her policies during the debate’s scheduled airtime. Instead, Lake would receive a half-hour interview with moderator Ted Simons, all to herself. However, drama arose when Lake and the CEC learned that the broadcaster had offered and scheduled a separate solo interview for Hobbs, effectively erasing the consequences she faced for declining the event and giving her the exact “non-debate” situation she wanted.
The CEC said this action by AZPBS broke the shared practice between the two, leading the CEC to postpone Lake’s interview to find a new partner, which they have now done.
In response to the new partnership, Lake thanked the CEC and said she would be there for the event.
“Thank you to [the CEC] for rescheduling the gubernatorial debate with a new broadcast partner. Arizona voters deserve this. I’m looking forward to being there. [Katie Hobbs], given how badly last week went for you, I hope you find the courage to join me,” Lake said.
The Arizona Sun Times reached out to the Hobbs campaign and asked if she plans to attend the new debate but did not receive a response.
Moreover, Lake is also awaiting an answer from Hobbs.
No response from @katiehobbs yet.
Katie, now would be a good time for you to tell @AZCEC that you're ready to debate.
I'll be waiting… https://t.co/SvH6Q7MV8U
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) October 18, 2022
As reported by The Sun Times, the Lake-Hobbs debate issue even drew the attention of an Arizona State Legislator. State Representative John Kavanaugh (R-Maricopa) announced his intent to sponsor legislation cutting AZPBS from state funding. He said the broadcaster’s actions could set a precedent for future elections, allowing nominees to skip an actual debate without concern, knowing the network will bail them out and give them a spotlight. Lake agreed with Kavanaugh’s sentiment and said she would sign this legislation if she became Arizona’s next governor.
Furthermore, since the debate controversy began in September, Lake capitalized on the drama as an opportunity to question the courage of her Democrat opponent. Most recently, the Lake campaign released a new TV ad Sunday titled ‘Debate.’ In the ad, Lake contrasts herself with Hobbs. While Lake is “answering the tough questions and working hard to earn your vote,” Hobbs is “too timid to debate or defend her liberal record.” The ad speaks on several issues Arizonans want answers on, including the border crisis, rising inflation, and a looming recession.
“Arizonans want answers and solutions and they deserve a gubernatorial debate. If Katie Hobbs is too afraid to debate, how can we trust her to make the tough choices?” the ad asks.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kari Lake” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Katie Hobbs. Background Photo “Debate Stage” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 3.0.