Clean Elections Commission tries to salvage debate between Lake, Hobbs

By Ben Giles
Published: Thursday, September 8, 2022 - 4:09pm
Updated: Friday, September 9, 2022 - 7:04am

Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake
Gage Skidmore/CC BY 2.0
Katie Hobbs (left) and Kari Lake.

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission is giving Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake a week to sort out whether or not to have a gubernatorial debate. But it appears unlikely Hobbs will agree to take the stage with Lake.

The commission voted Thursday to reject a proposal from the Hobbs campaign to host back-to-back town hall style forums, rather than a traditional one-on-one debate. That format would’ve kept Hobbs and Lake separate.

Instead, they instructed their staff to spend the next week negotiating with both candidates in hopes of salvaging a debate scheduled for Oct. 12.

However, Hobbs has repeatedly derided the traditional debate format as inadequate. Nicole DeMont, an attorney for Hobbs, said Lake and other Republicans spoiled the primary debate with name-calling, shouting and repeated references to 2020 election conspiracies.

“You can’t debate a conspiracy theorist,” DeMont told the commission.

DeMont later dodged a direct question from the commission — whether the Democratic candidate would agree to appear onstage with Lake under any circumstance.

If Hobbs won’t budge, Lake — who has agreed to the traditional debate format — would instead be given 30 minutes for a televised Q&A session with PBS moderator Ted Simons.

An attorney for Lake said Hobbs’ refusal to participate was an “insult to the commission” and a “cop out.”

Politics Elections