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Why Is Katie Hobbs Willing to Be the First Gubernatorial Candidate in 20 Years to a Refuse State-Sanctioned Debate Offer?

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Katie Hobbs will be the first candidate for Arizona governor in decades to refuse an invitation to debate her opponent in a state commission-organized event.

Hobbs, the current Democratic secretary of state, announced Sunday that she would “respectfully decline” the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission invitation to reach terms on debating her Republican opponent, former KSAZ anchor Kari Lake.

No other candidate running for office in November has declined an invitation, nor has any candidate for governor done so since the commission began holding debates in 2002.

“Secretary Hobbs remains willing and eager to participate in a town hall style event, such as the forum she participated in last week in which Arizonans were able to hear directly from Sec. Hobbs about her in-depth policy plans and how she would approach governing this state,” Hobbs’ campaign manager, Nicole DeMont, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, debating a conspiracy theorist like Kari Lake — whose entire campaign platform is to cause enormous chaos and make Arizona the subject of national ridicule — would only lead to constant interruptions, pointless distractions, and childish name-calling.”

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The AZCCEC met last week to discuss Hobbs’ request for separate town hall-style Q&A sessions with the commission’s chosen moderator.

They denied that request and gave staffers a week to figure out a setting where Hobbs would join Lake on stage.

Lake’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on Hobbs declining the invitation but posted several comments on Twitter.

“Arizona can’t afford to elect a shrinking violet like [Hobbs] as their Governor and turn a beautiful red state into a purple mess,” Lake’s campaign tweeted Monday.

State GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward said Monday that Hobbs’ refusal to face Lake is a statement of its own.

“Voters should be very suspicious that Katie Hobbs, a sitting secretary of state, is unwilling to stand side by side with Kari Lake and answer questions in a head to head matchup,” she said.

“What is Katie Hobbs trying to hide?”

Related:
Kari Lake Calls Out Arizona Dem Gov's Plan to Veto Border Security Bill Following Texas Crackdown

Polls have shown the two in a close race.

A version of this article first appeared at The Center Square.

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The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. A taxpayer sensibility distinguishes our work from other coverage of state and local issues. As a result of this approach, our readers are better informed about the focus of state and local government and its cost to the citizens whose tax dollars fund governmental decisions.
The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States.

The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. A taxpayer sensibility distinguishes our work from other coverage of state and local issues. As a result of this approach, our readers are better informed about the focus of state and local government and its cost to the citizens whose tax dollars fund governmental decisions.

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