Clean Elections Commission sides with Kari Lake, rejects Katie Hobbs debate proposal

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The Arizona Clean Elections Commission sided with Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and against Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs in their battle over a televised debate slated for Oct. 12.

By a 3 to 1 vote, the commission rejected Hobbs’ request to hold a forum rather than a side by side debate. In the forum, the candidates would get a half hour each

The commission has been in charge of holding political debates in Arizona since if was created by voters in 1998.

Hobbs rejected the idea of a side by side debate following a June 30 Republican debate for Governor which turned into a circus and led to late night talk show hosts using Arizona as the butt of jokes. In the debate, according to the Hobbs campaign, Lake cited the 2020 election results more than a dozen times saying she would not have certified the election and it was stolen.

The commission rejected Hobbs’ argument citing 20 years of precedent for holding side by side debates.

“Yes, we want to have a debate,” said Commission Chair Damien Meyer. “And we want both candidates on stage.”

To debate or not to debate has become the focal point of the election so far, eclipsing issues like water, education and abortion.

Both candidates appeared at a forum in Phoenix last night but did not stand together on stage. During the forum hosted by the Phoenix chamber, the candidates fielded questions from a business friendly audience.

Following the event, Lake said she would not appear at another forum but would only do debates.

During the public meeting, the commission allowed members of the public comment but it was never made clear if any of the speakers worked for either campaign.

Hobbs campaign argued for the forum proposal but was rejected by the commission.

“Secretary Hobbs campaign knows that’s not something the commission is interested in doing and then we can close the book on that idea,” Meyer said.

In the end, the commission did allow the campaigns a week to get together to work out details for a debate but made in explicit it had to be on stage, side by side.