OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate has been challenging her opponent, Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state, to public debates for weeks, but she hasn’t been successful in convincing the Democrat to get on stage with her.
So Lake did the next best thing: She went to a town hall-style event featuring Hobbs and another candidate in the governor’s race and tried to engage her directly. And for that, Lake got booted from the event after being accused of bringing “drama,” NBC News reported.
“Under the agreed-upon rules for the pre-recorded event, which was taped Monday and airs at 7 p.m. Saturday Arizona time, the candidates were not supposed to be onstage at the same time and Hobbs was supposed to go first,” the outlet noted. “But a problem arose before Hobbs even took the stage: Lake was sitting in the front row, in the direct line of sight of where her opponent would sit.”
As more than 200 people looked on, the report continued, organizers of the event said that Lake should have been waiting in a holding room under the rules, “a copy of which they refused to provide to NBC News,” the outlet added. Lake pushed back on that alleged rule, however, saying she was not aware of it and demanded that Hobbs come out and debate her directly, which the Democrat again refused to do.
Several minutes went by, but Lake finally complied, leaving behind her campaign surrogate, Mexican telenovela star Eduardo Verástegui, NBC News reported.
Joe Garcia, an independent voter and executive director of voter outreach for the group Chicanos Por La Causa Action Fund, a group that co-sponsored the event in conjunction with the state and national Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, said: “Kari Lake brought along a Mexican telenovela star and she brought the drama. It was like a telenovela.”
“She rattled her opponent. She was big, brash, and very larger than life, Trump-esque. Anyone who thinks she was there to follow all the rules doesn’t know Kari Lake,” Garcia continued, adding that it appeared to work because in his view, Hobbs did not give a good account of herself.
NBC News noted further: The scene was emblematic of the contrasting styles of Lake and Hobbs: Lake is a former local TV anchor, while Hobbs is the elected secretary of state in Arizona, one of the nation’s most competitive swing states. One observer of the town hall described the race as a clash between “an NPR Democrat and a Trump Republican.”
Hobbs’ campaign said in September that debates were a no-go, pointing to Lake’s penchant for causing “chaos” and her embrace of false conspiracy theories of a stolen election. Lake has repeatedly called Hobbs a “coward” for her refusal to share the debate stage and points out that Hobbs also refused to debate Democratic primary rivals.
While the race is close in the new battleground state of Arizona, Lake appears to have the edge. According to a new survey from the Trafalgar Group, which correctly predicted that she would capture the GOP nomination, Lake leads Democratic challenger and current Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs by nearly five points.
The survey polled 1,080 likely 2022 General Election voters from September 14-17 and has a 2.9 percent margin of error, meaning that Lake’s lead is enough to overcome it. Still, there 4.4 percent of respondents said they had yet to make up their minds.
Trafalgar also found Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly with a slight lead over Trump-backed GOP challenger Blake Masters, 46.6 – 45.4 percent, which is well within the margin of error. In that race, 5.3 percent are undecided, and 2.7 percent said they are voting for Libertarian Marc Victor.
The polling firm explained why their surveys are generally very accurate.
“We utilize short questionnaires of nine questions or less based on our perceptions about attenuated attention spans and the need to ‘accommodate modern busy lifestyles.’ Our polls last one to three minutes and are designed to quickly get opinions from those who would not typically participate in political polls,” the firm notes.