Arizona gubernatorial candidates Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake answered questions about Arizona’s business environment at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce gubernatorial forum at the Republic National Distributing Company office on Wednesday evening.
The nominees spoke with Arizona Chamber of Commerce President Daniel Seiden in separate sessions, in which they both discussed their approaches to issues such as taxes and economic growth.
Hobbs, the incumbent secretary of state, said that tax increases are “not on the table” despite her prior support of Proposition 208, which would have increased taxes on those with higher incomes, but it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in March.
“We all know in this room it takes a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. I’m not even considering that at this point,” Hobbs said. “So, and our environment is good, it’s working. It’s bringing in record revenues that are allowing us to make historic investments in things like water security for our state, so I don’t think we need to do anything to change that.”
Lake, a former local news anchor, also said she opposes tax increases and said that doing so would promote business development.
“I am for lowering taxes every place that we can. That is how you actually see growth, and that’s how we have seen growth in the past,” Lake said.
The Republican said she would work toward getting rid of the state income tax as well.
“I’d like to bring it down to zero, but I don’t like to make promises that I can’t deliver,” she said.
Hobbs and Lake are in a close race for governor’s office with two months until election day.
A Fox News poll from Aug.12-16 of 1,012 registered voters has the Hobbs leading by 3% at 47%, and Lake at 44%.
“The only publicly available polling is all within the margin of error as like a statistical tie. So I mean, I think at this point the race is a complete dead heat,” Landon Wall, a political consultant at Alloy Analytics, said.
Although both candidates agreed to do the forum, Hobbs turned down a televised debate on Arizona PBS with her opponent, her campaign manager Nicole DeMont said in a letter to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission last week. Her campaign proposed a televised forum instead, in which each candidate would speak to “Arizona Horizon” host Ted Simons in separate 30-minute long interviews. A decision has yet to be made public, as the commission is expected to discuss the suggested changes at their public meeting on Thursday.
Debates among the Arizona gubernatorial nominees have been routine over the past 20 years, according to 12 News.
OH Predictive Insights Chief of Research Mike Noble said that Hobbs could face political consequences for not agreeing to a televised debate.
“I just think that hurts her at the end of the day with voters and makes her look, you know, weaker than she probably is,” Noble said.