By Corinne Murdock |
The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (AZCCEC) gubernatorial debate will take place on Sunday, following its postponement last week. Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake promised to attend, but not Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs. It’s unlikely Hobbs will attend, given her consistent refusal to debate Lake.
Whereas before Hobbs had no Arizona PBS (AZPBS) or AZCCEC opportunities to showcase her platform due to her refusal to debate, Hobbs now has two opportunities: a special interview on Tuesday that caused the AZCCEC to split from AZPBS and the Arizona legislature to threaten to defund AZPBS, and the newly rescheduled Sunday debate.
Battinto Batts, dean of Arizona State University’s (ASU) Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, defended the AZPBS decision to work around AZCCEC and the Arizona law on candidate debates. ASU owns AZPBS.
“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,” said Batts.
ASU President Michael Crow concurred with Batts’ sentiment, saying that while he didn’t direct AZPBS to make a special exception for Hobbs, he did stress the importance of doing so.
“[I] did indicate that we need to continue to fulfill our mission of unbiased and nonpartisan coverage of public figures and talk to important people in the public realm like Lake and Hobbs to have the public learn of their views, even if there is no debate,” stated Crow.
AZPBS also offered Lake a one-on-one interview for Tuesday. However, Lake rejected the offer. She said she would only accept Tuesday’s invitation if it were reformatted to be a debate between her and Hobbs.
Hobbs accused Lake of avoiding difficult questions by refusing the invitation — similar to the accusations Lake leveled against her for months.
AZCCEC partnered with KAZT/AZTV7 to host Sunday’s gubernatorial debate, scheduled for 5 pm. The AZPBS interview with Hobbs took place on Tuesday.
Lake requested Hobbs to attend the Sunday debate multiple times.
Lake dismissed rumors that she or her supporters were planning to protest Hobbs’ interview at ASU.
Even so, Hobbs accused Lake of stirring up violence against her and ASU.