Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Republican Kari Lake to win the governorship of Arizona, following a bruising campaign that included harsh accusations, dramatic swings in the polls, and zero debates.
Decision Desk HQ projects Katie Hobbs (D) elected governor in Arizona.
R to D Flip.#DecisionMade: 8:50pm EST
— Decision Desk HQ (@DecisionDeskHQ) November 15, 2022
Hobbs’ campaign suffered from its candidate’s refusal to meet Lake in a one-on-one debate. Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, claimed that debating Lake, who she branded a “conspiracy theorist,” would only “lead to constant interruptions, pointless distractions, and childish name-calling.” She said such an event would not be useful to Arizona voters. But even the media, which sparred frequently with Lake, questioned the strategy.
“If Katie Hobbs loses, remember Oct. 12 – the day she ran away from confronting Kari Lake,” Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts wrote. “Democrats in Arizona are known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but Hobbs’ refusal to debate her opponent on Wednesday represents a new level of political malpractice.”
Hobbs instead sought to have Arizona’s election commission hold a “town hall-style” event where each candidate is interviewed for 30-minutes each back-to-back. The Lake campaign and the commission rejected Hobbs’ request.
Hobbs did end up scoring a 30-minute sit-down interview on Arizona PBS, the station that would have held the debate. Arizona PBS granted the Democrat the interview after it and the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission split over the failed debate negotiations.
Lake, who was backed by former President Donald Trump, won her primary against Karrin Taylor Robson, who was endorsed by sitting Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and former Vice President Mike Pence. Lake, a popular television news anchor for more than two decades, overtook Hobbs in the polls and gained national press for her sometimes combative dealings with the press.
The Republican candidate has expressed skepticism of the security of Arizona elections and has repeated Trump’s claims of a stolen election in 2020. She made election integrity on pillar of her campaign; while another was a comprehensive strategy to curb illegal immigration. Lake ran on a hardline immigration plan that included building a wall on its 378-mile border with Mexico.
Lake is believed to be the beneficiary of Democratic election meddling in the GOP primary. The theory also fits in with a 2022 trend of Democrats effectively boosting a number of pro-Trump candidates in GOP primaries in the belief that those candidates would be easier to beat in the general. In Lake’s case, the Arizona Democratic Party in a July email blast thanked Robson for her history of aiding Democrats. The move was seemingly designed to discredit Robson with Republican voters and boost Lake.
Lake and the elections commission denounced the move by PBS. The commission planned to host an interview with Lake on the station in place of the debate offer that Hobbs rejected. In light of Hobbs’ interview, the commission pulled the Lake interview from the outlet.
“Given today’s events, and the need to obtain additional information regarding the last-minute developments, the Commission will postpone tonight’s Q & A on Arizona PBS and will identify a new venue, partner, and date when the interview will be broadcast,” the commission said in a statement.
Lake accused PBS and the Hobbs campaign of striking a “backroom deal” meant to bail her out of her refusal to meet Lake one-on-one.
“Unfortunately, PBS and ASU have done a backroom deal with that coward to give her airtime that she does not deserve,” Lake said. “They have canceled this, and it’s absolutely wrong.”