PHOENIX — Every year since 2002, Arizona candidates for governor have participated in the Arizona Clean Elections Commission debates.
Democrat Katie Hobbs, who sat out of the primary debate, said Friday that she also doesn't want to participate in a debate with Republican Karie Lake. Hobbs cites what she calls online ridicule surrounding the recent GOP primary debate.
A letter released Friday states that she "will never participate in something that will make Arizona the butt of late-night TV jokes and national ridicule."
Hobbs' letter in response to the debate invitation instead proposes a 30-minute town hall-style interview, separately, for each candidate with a host.
Lake released the following video online in response to Hobbs' letter:
Senator Mark Kelly has agreed to a debate with Republican opponent Blake Masters who is trying to take one of Arizona's two seats in the U.S. Senate.
"By and large candidates in Arizona recognize it's an important opportunity to reach Arizona voters," said Tom Collins, the director of the Clean Elections Commission. "Part of the balance the commission has to strike is providing this public service which is an important one and recognizing the candidates are going to make the choices that are going to work best for candidates."
Approximately 50 Arizona television and radio stations, including ABC15, are planning to broadcast the debate either live or at a later time.
It's the one opportunity Hobbs and Lake would also have to address the entire state.
"I think it's really important to debate. We have so many issues that this state is facing. If you are not comfortable enough with your plans for the state, stand on a stage, talk about what you want to do for Arizonans, then frankly you shouldn't be running for governor," Lake said.
Two weeks ago, Hobbs campaign manager Nicole Demont said "Arizonans deserve a robust policy debate between their candidates and we are eager to find a format that would allow for such a debate. But we will not engage in a circus that insults and embarrasses Arizonans."
A reference to the Republican Governor's primary debate, which at times became chaotic when candidates Scott Neely and Paula Tulliani Zenn took the focus off frontrunners Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson.
The Arizona Clean Elections Commission released the following statement in response to Hobbs' proposal:
"Clean Elections has received a letter from the Hobbs campaign proposing changes that would significantly alter the nature of the event. This is the first proposal we have received from the Hobbs campaign and we will review it in due course."