Why there may not be an Arizona gubernatorial debate this year

A gubernatorial debate may not happen as scheduled for October in Arizona as one campaign says it doesn't want to participate.
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 5:56 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The countdown to the general election’s underway, and there’s a big talker for the biggest race in the state. Will voters get a chance to see the two women running against each other for governor in a televised debate? Republican nominee Kari Lake has made it clear she’s willing to debate her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs anywhere, anytime. But it’s a different story for Hobbs.

For 20 years, the Citizens Clean Elections debate has been the one guaranteed time voters get to see their candidates for governor on the same stage in front of a statewide audience. But that streak may end. The Hobbs campaign says they want to participate. However, after what they saw in the Republican primary debate, they have concerns, saying, “We will not engage in a circus that insults and embarasses Arizonans. We do not need to look further than the last debate Kari Lake participated in for such an example.” Lake’s campaign told Arizona’s Family she has no issues facing Hobbs on stage.

Longtime GOP strategist Lisa James said Hobbs would be making a big mistake by ducking out. “I think if Katie Hobbs expects to be elected she needs to prove to voters who I think at this point and time questioning her ability to lead that she can indeed lead, and to do that she’s going to have to debate Katie Hobbs, excuse me Kari Lake,” she said.

Hobbs skipped out on the Democratic primary debate against Marco Lopez. Experts said if she takes another pass, it would be a gift to the Lake campaign. “I can envision where she takes advantage and calls her out, as I would, if I would advise her too if I were running her campaign,” James said.

The debate, if it happens, would be on every major TV station in Arizona, along with dozens of radio stations.