Race for Arizona governor intensifies as Republican Kari Lake says she won’t accept defeat

Republican Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake refused to say Sunday that she would accept the results of her race in November if she loses to her Democratic opponent.

The Trump-backed candidate has made election integrity a pillar of her campaign and frequently questions the results of the 2020 presidential contest on the campaign trail.

Pressed by CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” Ms. Lake repeatedly said she’d accept the results if she wins but declined to say so if she loses to Democrat Katie Hobbs.

“I’m going to win the election, and I will accept that result because the people of Arizona will never support and vote for a coward like Katie Hobbs who won’t show up on a debate stage,”  Ms. Lake said. “She’s single-handedly destroying a 20-year tradition of gubernatorial debates because of her cowardice.”

Ms. Hobbs, who declined to debate her Democratic rival during the primary, also has refused to debate Ms. Lake.

Ms. Lake noted that Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is running for Georgia governor a second time against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp after losing in 2018, never officially conceded her loss.

“Stacey Abrams never conceded. She still hasn’t. I don’t hear CNN calling her an election-denier,” she said. “We have the right. It’s protected with our First Amendment to question our government and to question elections.”

The competitive Arizona race is a toss-up and has garnered national attention.

Ms. Lake has an average lead of less than 1 percentage point over Ms. Hobbs in recent polls, and nonpartisan election forecasters such as the Cook Political Report say it could go for either candidate.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who is completing his second consecutive term, is unable to run again because of term limits.

In a separate appearance on CNN, Ms. Hobbs dodged the question of why she has refused to debate Ms. Lake if the Republican is truly as dangerous to democracy as she has alleged.

Ms. Hobbs suggested it would be futile because Ms. Lake, a former TV reporter, is “only interested in creating a spectacle.”

“Kari Lake has made it clear time and time again that she’s not interested in having substantive, in-depth conversations about the issues that matter to Arizonans,” she said. “I guarantee you that when Arizonans who are struggling, when they go to open their ballot, when they’re thinking about the fact that they’re not sure how they’re going to put food on the table, they’re rationing their insulin, or they’re thinking about having to drive their niece or their sister or their daughter to California to get the health care that they need, they’re not going to look at their ballot and say, ‘Damn it, Katie Hobbs didn’t debate her opponent.’”

Ms. Hobbs went on to say that she would advocate for no limits to abortion if elected, arguing that the decision should be a medical one determined between a woman and her healthcare provider.

The contentious issue has galvanized Democrats ahead of the November midterm elections after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, which offered federal protections for the medical procedure. Democrats consistently campaign on the topic in an effort to drum up enthusiasm at the polls, and Republicans have honed in on the economy, inflation and crime.

Ms. Hobbs’ blanket statement presumably meant she would support late-term abortions, a stark change from the state’s current restrictions that outlaw most abortions after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Abortions have resumed in the state as the law, which does allow exceptions for the life of the mother, is being challenged in court.

“When you’re talking about late-term abortion, that is incredibly, extremely rare. If that conversation is happening, it’s because there’s something that’s gone incredibly wrong in the pregnancy, and politicians do not belong in that decision,” Ms. Hobbs said.

“Government making these kinds of mandates, interferes with the care that doctors need to provide to their patients,” she said. “They don’t belong in these decisions.”

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