AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Ticking Clock: Arizona Elections Group Says Dem Hobbs Has Less Than a Week to Agree to Debate With Kari Lake

We’ve now moved into the part of the midterms cycle where general election debates are taking place…or at least, they should be.

As we reported earlier, there has yet to be an actual specific statement from Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman on when he’ll agree to debate Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz for the Commonwealth’s governor’s race. This is despite the cover the Democrat is getting from an all too obedient, lapdog media, which insists the opposite is true.

My colleague Bonchie also wrote about the failure of Washington state Democrat Sen. Patty Murray to agree to a face-to-face debate with her opponent, Republican nominee Tiffany Smiley — but Murray managed to finagle a town hall style sit-down over Zoom anyway.

As Bonchie explains:

“The Everett Herald, a local newspaper in the state, was set to hold a debate over Zoom between the two candidates before Murray refused. Astonishingly, the “journalists” involved bent the knee, agreeing to the Democrat’s demand to hold separate interviews, notably the same game Katie Hobbs is trying to play against Kari Lake in Arizona.”

But in a positive slant on this phenomenon, the Arizona Democrat Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate mentioned above isn’t getting whatever she wants by stomping her feet like a two-year-old who didn’t get a nap or that cookie, the way that Murray and Fetterman are.

What’s the difference in this case? Arizona has an independent commission-the Citizens Clean Election Commission-that handles how debates are run. Voters made the decision to create it, too; it’s not just something whipped up by the executive. And though, as you’ll see, they are starkly diplomatic in saying the campaigns, plural, need to put their heads together and work out a debate format, only Hobbs has refused to meet up against Lake on the same stage.

Phoenix’s KTVK/KPHO reported late Thursday on the dilemma Hobbs is now mired in-and it’s one of her own making: (emphasis mine)

Gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs has a deadline of a week to come up with some sort of debate format that she agrees with so she and Kari Lake can have a televised debate this year. On Thursday, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission rejected Hobbs’ proposal to have the candidates do separate 30-minute town hall-style interviews with Arizona PBS’ Ted Simons, who is also the executive director of Clean Elections. But that would essentially take the debate out of the debate. The panel said it’s giving the campaigns seven days to come up with a debate format that includes both candidates on stage at the same time. If Hobbs doesn’t agree to a traditional debate, Lake will take the stage by herself on Oct. 12.

During Thursday’s hearing on Hobbs’ proposal, Citizens Clean Elections Commission chair Damien Meyer asked Hobbs’ campaign manager if Hobbs would agree to a traditional debate and she said she didn’t want to get into hypotheticals. She added she’d need details in writing about the rules.

The ball appears to be in Hobbs’ court because Lake has repeatedly said she has no problem debating her opponent.

Notice the bolded part: “If Hobbs doesn’t agree to a traditional debate, Lake will take the stage by herself on Oct. 12.” That’s quite a pickle, if Hobbs and her camp don’t figure this out in short order.

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