Arizona PBS was set to air an interview with Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake on Wednesday evening but the broadcast was canceled hours before it was meant to happen, as the Arizona Citizens Clean Election Commission backed out of the event.
Her opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has refused to engage in debate during this tight race, as I previously reported.
Why was Kari Lake’s PBS interview canceled?
Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Commission published a statement on Twitter addressing the cancellation and the new channel’s role in it.
The commission said it was “surprised to learn that Arizona PBS has committed to host a Gubernatorial candidate Q&A next week” with Hobbs, even though the interview with Lake had been scheduled and taped ahead of time.
The commission deemed the decision “disappointing” after “multiple failed attempts to organize a traditional debate between the two candidates,” the statement said.
Since Hobbs refused to participate in a debate, Citizens Clean Elections Commission “proceeded with its obligation to arrange a Q&A interview” with the candidate who did agree to participate — Lake.
This is the “same process” Arizona PBS and the commission followed during primaries in 2018 and earlier in 2022, according to the statement.
The interview with Lake is postponed until a new date, time and place, as well as a new partner, is identified.
Lake, who was previously a news anchor, held a press conference to address the commission’s decision, making Hobbs’ refusal to debate the focal point.
“You keep reminding the world that you’re a coward and afraid to do a debate,” said Lake, per Fox News, Phoenix. “She said I might yell at her. I would never yell at her. Only cowards would say something like that.”
“And if you want to have an emotional support animal there as well, I will agree to that. But show up like a grownup and debate,” she said in the press conference.
.@KariLake: “I promise [Katie] you can write the questions for me.— Kari Lake (@KariLake) October 13, 2022
I promise you I won’t yell.
I promise you I won’t interrupt you.
And if you want to have an emotional support animal there as well, I will agree to that.
But show up, like a grown-up, and debate.” pic.twitter.com/XgQiNelN5P
Katie Hobbs refuses debate. Is it hurting her campaign?
This isn’t the first time Lake has called on Hobbs to debate. Over the weekend, Lake decided to sit in the front row, where her opponent would see her if she took the stage. She was asked to leave by the moderators.
After sticking around for several minutes and asking Hobbs to come out, Lake made her way back to the holding room.
During a campaign event on Wednesday, Hobbs told reporters that she is focused on addressing the voters.
“I’m not interested in being a part of Kari Lake’s spectacle or shouting match, and I’m going to talk directly to the voters,” she said, per The Associated Press.
As for her scheduled interview on Arizona PBS, Hobbs said she didn’t know what happened behind the scenes “but they reached out to us and we accepted their offer,” according to the Arizona Republic.
Hobbs’ decision to not debate has attracted a lot of criticism as her supporters worry about the comparatively quiet campaign trail, according to NBC News.
“You wonder as a candidate if you’re doing everything you should be doing,” said Sandra Kennedy, who serves on the state’s Corporation Commission, per the report. “You don’t want to wait till the day after the election and think, ‘Would I have done it another way?’”
She added that if she was the candidate, she would debate and allow people to learn about her platform.
“And I would lay it out — lay it out in a way so they will know the difference between me and Kari Lake,” Kennedy told NBC News.