Democrat Katie Hobbs did not end up attending a Hispanic voter town hall in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
The event was hosted by Prensa Arizona, a Spanish-language publication, and other organizations, and it was intended to be a forum–not a debate. Hobbs declined a televised debate with Lake on Arizona PBS, but has previously agreed to forums where they would both be speaking separately, like the Arizona Chamber of Commerce forum in September.
While the Chamber of Commerce event did not place Hobbs and Lake on podiums right next to each other, this event did. It had the visual appearance of a debate, except the style would have been different. Prensa Arizona said, in the Thursday edition of their Press Arizona publication, that Lake only confirmed her attendance, even though there was a flyer showing that both she and Hobbs would be showing up.
“I always speak to the media, but she won’t answer the questions,” Lake said on Wednesday night.
.@KariLake: "I always speak to the media, but she won't answer the questions. She won't answer the questions & she didn't have the courage to be here. I think that should tell you something. She's hiding something. What is she hiding? I think we know: her terrible record." pic.twitter.com/xoOqGh92L8
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) October 6, 2022
As the Democrat, who is the incumbent Secretary of State, was a no-show, Lake got lucky with a photo showing her next to an empty podium.
Hispanics are considered a closely watched group for political realignment this election cycle, and Hobbs may have missed a crucial opportunity to reach any undecided voters at the event, or who will see the photo. Visuals matter in politics, especially in a race such as this.
“We need to look no further than the Clean Elections’ Republican primary debate to see how little regard Kari Lake displayed to produce a good faith debate of ideas,” Hobbs campaign manager, Nicole DeMont, said in a letter, when asking for a town hall-style event instead of a debate in early September.
She cites GOP debate as reason for the change.
— The AZ – abc15 – Data Guru (@Garrett_Archer) September 2, 2022
Then on Sept. 11, the Hobbs campaign made it official, announcing their candidate would not appear in a one on one format with the Republican nominee.
This comes as Republicans have been boosting grassroots efforts with the Hispanic population, including the Republican National Committee setting up Hispanic Community Centers throughout the country. This late in the game, it’s unknown if Hobbs’s latest move to maintain a low-key campaign will make a difference, although it’s possible some voters will feel snubbed.