So now comes word that Katie Hobbs may be preparing to skip out on debating her opponent.
Again, that is.
Fresh off her refusal to debate Marco Lopez in the Democratic primary, it appears Hobbs is now trying to wiggle out of going one-on-one with Kari Lake in the general election.
“We will be seeking changes to the format to ensure that Arizona voters get a robust policy debate based on fact, instead of regurgitated lies about the 2020 election,” Hobbs' campaign spokesman Joe Wolf told 3TV/CBS5 on Thursday.
“We will not engage in a circus that insults and embarrasses Arizonans. We do not need to look further than the last debate Kari Lake participated in for such an example.”
In other words, she doesn't want to debate Kari Lake.
Naturally, Democrats – the same ones who are furious that I dared to suggest earlier this week that Hobbs needs to up her game – will close ranks behind her, assuring us all that she’s not afraid to take on Lake.
That she’s just looking for a different “format” in the Clean Elections debate (which is code for not having to appear on stage at the same time as Lake).
That she’s “being the adult in the room.”
“Why would she debate?’’ asked one Democrat, in response to my tweet suggesting that Hobbs is making a mistake. “Lake will turn the entire thing into a colossal shit show that will be of no use to serious voters. My grandfather used to say, ‘mess with shit, and you get it all over yourself.’”
“You said it 'the GOP primary election debate was a clown show,' ” so why the disingenuous take that Katie Hobb must step into the tent to mix it up with QCrazyKari over issues that Arizona cares about?” tweeted another. “QCrazyKari will spend the entire time shouting out MAGA nonsensical lies.”
“What is it about ‘we will be seeking changes’ that you didn’t comprehend?” barked another. “Anyone should be skeptical about debating that bombastic woman without strict controls. Keep stirring the pot, Laurie. No wonder why @azcentral is losing readers.”
Denial. Isn’t it a lovely thing?
All week long, Democrats have sniped at me for daring to suggest that Hobbs isn’t inspiring much confidence that she can beat Lake. They even point to a Fox poll, showing she’s 3 points ahead in a survey that has a margin of error of 3%, as some proof that she’s running a vibrant campaign.
Can’t imagine how disappointed some local columnists are right now to see Kari Lake losing. https://t.co/EWjIRikaok
— Will Gaona (@Will_Gaona) August 18, 2022
In answer to yesterday’s question from a newspaper columnist, “Anybody seen @katiehobbs lately?”
Yes, I have seen her. She is working her ass off campaigning around the state and leading in the polls. pic.twitter.com/jubGHAMVrj
— Dan Barr (@DanCBarr) August 18, 2022
Yet behind the scenes, some Democratic political consultants are concerned that Hobbs often seems invisible – especially to those independents and moderate Republicans she must win over if she wants to win this election.
For a candidate who needs to project strength, refusing to go head to head with Kari Lake would be a terrible move.
Will the polished and camera-ready Kari try to turn it into a clown show?
So let her.
Just don’t engage when Lake cues up the calliope. While Lake is busy putting on her red nose and her baggy stripped pants, Ms. Hobbs, you put on an air of dignity. Simply refuse to go toe-to-toe in floppy shoes.
Instead, show us who you are. And by contrast, who you are not.
And when Lake inevitably goes full-on center ring with her election lies? Well, who better than Arizona’s secretary of state to authoritatively refute them?
Come armed with facts and a plan for where you want to take Arizona and the passion that will motivate those all-important middle voters to turn out and vote in November.
You want to take charge of the state, Secretary Hobbs? Then show us you can hold your own when the Republicans send in the head clown.
Support local journalism: Subscribe to azcentral.com today.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Katie Hobbs absolutely must debate Kari Lake