Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Katie Hobbs will not participate in a televised debate this year.

The debate format had been used for two decades, but Hobbs’ campaign asked to change it to a townhall style, with each candidate on stage separately fielding questions, couching it as a way to let voters hear about policy, not political attacks.

By Stacey Barchenger|| Arizona Republic

It’s official: Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Katie Hobbs will not participate in a televised debate this year. 

The announcement, made Sunday by Hobbs’ campaign manager Nicole DeMont, brings an end to weeks of drama about whether Hobbs would participate in the event co-organized by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and Arizona PBS.

The decision, however, likely will not end Republican opponent Kari Lake’s efforts to turn Hobbs’ absence into a political sticking point. The two are squaring off in a competitive race to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. 

“Unfortunately, debating a conspiracy theorist like Kari Lake – whose entire campaign platform is to cause enormous chaos and make Arizona the subject of national ridicule – would only lead to constant interruptions, pointless distractions, and childish name-calling,” DeMont said in a statement. “Arizonans deserve so much better than Kari Lake, and that’s why we’re confident Katie Hobbs will be elected our next governor.”

Last week, the commission urged staff to find a way for both candidates to agree to a head-to-head debate. 

Hobbs “respectfully” declined, DeMont’s statement said.

The debate format had been used for two decades, but Hobbs’ campaign asked to change it to a townhall style, with each candidate on stage separately fielding questions, couching it as a way to let voters hear about policy, not political attacks. Hobbs’ campaign pointed to a debate in the GOP primary for governor, which was light on policy but high on election misinformation and viral moments that swept across the internet, garnering nearly 10 million views by Clean Elections’ count.

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