Lake solo gubernatorial appearance postponed after Hobbs granted interview with PBS

Oct 12, 2022, 11:13 AM | Updated: Oct 13, 2022, 8:30 am
(Getty Images Photos)...
(Getty Images Photos)
(Getty Images Photos)

PHOENIX — Wednesday was supposed to be the day of Arizona’s only gubernatorial debate prior to next month’s midterm election, but that’s not happening.

Initially, Republican Kari Lake was scheduled to have a solo 30-minute interview with host Ted Simons set to air on PBS at 5 p.m after Democrat Katie Hobbs repeatedly refused to debate her counterpart.

It was postponed about two hours before air time Wednesday after Lake and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC), the debate sponsor, caught wind that PBS had agreed to a separate 30-minute interview with Hobbs.

“This decision is disappointing, especially following the multiple attempts on behalf of all the partners involved in producing this year’s general election debates, to organize a traditional gubernatorial debate between the two candidates,” CCEC said in a statement.

Lake said PBS’ decision to give Hobbs an interview was “a slap in the face.”

PBS issued a statement saying it offered each candidate a 30-minute interview as part of its “Horizon” news program.

“It is our responsibility as a news agency to provide the public with access to the candidates who are running for office so they can learn more and make informed decisions,” Battinto L. Batts, dean of Arizona State University’s Cronkite School, said in a statement on behalf of PBS and its Phoenix member station, KAET.

CCEC said it will find a new venue, partner and date for the Lake interview that was postponed.

“The commission’s commitment and obligation under state law is to produce unbiased, fair opportunities for candidates to speak to voters,” the commission said.

“We intend to make good on that commitment and our commitment to a transparent decision making process.”

The CCEC sponsors debates for all of Arizona’s contested statewide and legislative races as part of its voter education responsibilities. The nonpartisan board was created as part of the Clean Elections Act passed by voters in 1998.

Hobbs’ camp said she is planning to move forward with a PBS interview on Oct. 18.

“Kari Lake is once again creating chaos and proving she has no interest in a real conversation about the issues facing Arizonans,” a Hobbs spokesperson told KTAR News. “Lake is refusing to show up to speak to Arizona voters because she doesn’t want to answer for her extreme record.”

The postponement is the latest in the saga between the candidates’ inability to come to an agreement over a debate.

Hobbs and Lake have appeared at the same events multiple times since their Aug. 2 primary wins, but never at the same time.

The candidates most recently spoke separately at an Oct. 3 forum at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix as part of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce national convention.

NBC News reported Lake sat in the front row during Hobbs’ allotted speaking time and was eventually booted.

“We’ve looked for opportunities for formats where I can talk directly to voters and they can hear directly from me without the spectacle that Kari Lake is going to create,” Hobbs told MSNBC.

Lake has continually called for her Democratic counterpart to participate in a debate.

“Every other candidate and every other position and every other office is coming around and they’re going to do the debate except for Hobbs,” Lake told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show in September.

“That’s a red flag. Why won’t she debate?”

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Lake solo gubernatorial appearance postponed after Hobbs granted interview with PBS