Kari Lake has proven to be a champion in the arena of Donald Trump imitators. The Republican has been driving the narrative in Arizona’s governor’s race as she mocks Katie Hobbs, her Democratic opponent, for not allowing her to debate her.
This year, the race is of great importance because the governor could play a crucial role in confirming the next White House occupant. It’s a clash between Lake, an unwavering opponent of the November election result, and Hobbs who is Arizona’s secretary-of-state.
The final phase of this race is less about a battle for ideas and more about a contrast of high-risk strategies. It has shown the enthusiasm within the GOP base to support Lake, a former TV anchor, and the low-key vibes of the Hobbs campaign. This is causing concern for Democrats in a race without a clear leader according to recent polling. However, it’s happening in a state where Trump has already made ground zero for his efforts to install election-denying candidates. It’s also a state where registered GOP voters are more motivated to vote than Democrats.
Hobbs took a calculated risk by refusing to appear with Lake on stage – breaking a 20-year debate tradition in Arizona by major party candidates. Her campaign insists that it is not worth participating in a forum that descends into “constant interruptions” and “childish name calling.”
Hobbs stated that she was not interested in participating in a Kari lake spectacle or shouting match. She said this at a recent launch of a phone bank.
Lake’s campaign has used a dynamic that is reminiscent of Trump’s 2016 torpedoing of many Republican rivals. With endless repetitions of nicknames such as “low-energy” Jeb bush and “Lyin’ Ted(Cruz),” Lake has made it a point to call Hobbs a “coward” by forming a traveling troupe consisting of chickens dressed up in costumes and accompanied by actual chickens in a cage. These chickens have been seen outside Hobbs’s office with signs.
While Arizona Democrats don’t want to be critical of their nominee during the last weeks of the race some voters question the wisdom of allowing Lake unchallenged at a debate stage.
David Axelrod is an ex-senior adviser to President Barack Obama and said that the Hobbs campaign’s position on debates was a “mistake.”
Strength is a leading indicator when you are running for the position of chief executive of a state. This holds for any executive position. Axelrod stated that if you refuse to discuss, it could be taken as weakness or fear.
Axelrod said that the best way to deal with falsehoods was to challenge the person who is promoting them. “If I was the opponent, I would chase her down and make her account for creating her campaign on falsehoods. They feel she is too strong a personality to be challenged – which I believe could prove fatal.
Laurie Roberts, a columnist for the Arizona Republic with a left-leaning bent, said that Hobbs’ refusal of Lake to be debated amounts to “a new level in political malpractice.”
“These are two candidates asking for governorships in a state with more than seven million people over the next four years. Roberts stated that voters have the right to see them side-by-side.
Adrienne Elrod, a Democratic strategist, said that Hobbs should resign from any debate with Lake. “Hobbs has been engaging strategically in a mix of national and local media and taking her campaign to communities across the state, where she’s effectively made it known to voters. Her strategy is sound, considering she is running for another term.
Hobbs argued that the issue of debate isn’t important to voters. She stated, “I can guarantee you that Arizonans who are currently struggling are not making decisions about whether or not there was an argument between Kari Lake and myself.”
However, not all of her supporters are convinced.
Cindy Ika, a registered Democrat could hear Lake’s costumed chicken protesters outside a Hobbs telephone banking event she attended last week.
Ika stated, “I wish she would debate.” “If your opponent is constantly interrupting you, it’s difficult to get your voice out – as Trump did with Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race – that’s hard to beat. That is what I get.
She said, however, that a matchup on stage could help clarify the choice for voters.
Ika looked through the glass of Hobbs’ campaign event at the chicken protesters and warned that not directly challenging Lake might have an impact on the small number who are undecided in Arizona.
It does send a message.
“Call me out on the stage”
Lake, who has a greater message discipline than Trump and is more media-savvy because of her work in television news, has participated in several high-wattage events as well as attention-grabbing stunts. As she campaigned alongside a former UFC champion, Lake held a Friday Night Fight Night in Phoenix. It featured a mock boxing ring, punching bags, and weight benches, as well as boxing gloves.
The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted a recent event where Lake and Hobbs were interviewed for back-to-back interviews. Candidates were required to wait in their respective holding areas while their opponents spoke. Lake snatched a seat in the front row for Hobbs’ speech. When she was asked to leave, she caused a stir by telling the moderator that she wanted to join him on stage to debate Hobbs.
Lake dismissed Hobbs’ claim that a debate would lead to “pointless distractions” as well as name-calling and cited this as an insufficient reason to not meet on stage.
“We’re going discuss the issues. “If that’s your excuse, then you can call me out on the stage,” the Republican stated during a Phoenix news conference last week. She noted that Hobbs refused to debate her Democratic opponents during the primary.
“We have too many problems facing our state right at the moment to allow a weak, cowardice presidential candidate to win and then make it to Governor’s Mansion.”
John Graham, a registered Republican, and developer, who leads the Republicans and Independents for Katie Hobbs alliance, predicts that voters will reject the divisive rhetoric of Lake and Arizona’s current Republican Party, which is dominated by Trump supporters.
He said that despite having some policy differences with Hobbs, he supports her because he believes she will govern “responsibly with fair hands and be respected.”
Graham stated that she is not a showman and that she doesn’t have a bubbly personality. That’s fine with me. It’s calm and stable.
Graham answered a question about the Lake-Hobbs debate by saying: “I don’t see how that debate would work out well for anyone.”
Don Kinghorn, a 75-year-old Democrat from Sahuarita, who supports the Democrat, stated that her decision was “a little concerning” because it makes her appear reticent to confront.
He pointed out that the 2016 debates between Trump & Clinton were evidence that voters may end up with more of an entertainment-driven spectacle than an informal exchange of ideas.
Kinghorn stated, “Look at the last Trump/Clinton debates and how poorly he followed the rules.” Trump would be just like Kari Lake. “Why would you put yourself in a situation where someone could not follow the rules of the discussion?”