Kari Lake was kicked out of the Arizona City Hall audience before Hobbes took the stage


Democrat Katie Hobbs won’t debate her opposition in Arizona’s gubernatorial race, but Republican Kari Lake says the organizers tried to make it happen at the candidate’s city hall It was made.

Under the agreed rules for the pre-recorded event, which will be taped on Monday and broadcast Saturday at 7 p.m. Arizona time, the candidates are not supposed to be on stage at the same time, with Hobbes going first. It was happening.

However, problems arose before Hobbes took the stage. Lake sat in the front row and had a direct view of where his opponent would sit.

As a crowd of more than 200 watched, organizers said Lake was supposed to be in the waiting room by regulation, and declined to provide a copy to NBC News. Lake protested, saying she didn’t know the rules, and Hobbes, she said, should come out and discuss her.Hobbes didn’t.

A few minutes later, Lake complied, leaving Mexican telenovela star Eduardo Velastegui as the campaign’s agent.

“Kali Lake brought the star of the Mexican telenovela, and she brought drama. Joe Garcia, executive director of voter outreach at Action Fund, said:

Garcia’s account of the scene matched the accounts of five witnesses, including representatives from both campaigns, and Republicans turned to moderator Leon Krause, Univision News anchor and event producer Mary Lavago. A video provided by Lake’s campaign showing her suing her lawsuit.

Garcia believes Lake’s actions were a stunt to anger Hobbes, and he said it seemed to work because, in his view, Democrats performed unevenly.

Of Lake, Garcia said: She was big, sassy, ​​much bigger than life, and Trumpy. Anyone who thinks she was there to follow all the rules doesn’t know Kari Lake. “

The scene epitomized the contrasting styles of Lake and Hobbes. Lake is a former local TV anchor, and Hobbs was elected Secretary of State for Arizona, one of the most competitive battleground states in the country. One observer at City Hall described the race as a clash between “NPR Democrats and Trump Republicans.”

Hobbes’ campaign said in September that the debate was banned, noting that Lake tended to cause “chaos” and embraced false conspiracy theories of stolen elections. Hobbs has repeatedly called him a “coward” for his refusal to share the debate stage, noting that Hobbs also refused to debate a major Democratic rival.

When asked to comment on the incident, both sides released statements to NBC News about the forum, which reciprocated the points of contention between the candidates, with Lake questioning Hobbes’ courage and Hobbes causing chaos. accused Lake of

Television viewers will not be able to see the spectacle that unfolded at Monday’s forum. It was pre-recorded to give Univision time to translate the event into Spanish before it aired Saturday night.

The English version will be webcast online by Univision, who has banned viewers from recording the event on video.

However, two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Velastegui uploaded a video of Lake, Krause and Lavago’s interactions before the event to social media.

The video has since been removed from social media.

Later, when Lake took the stage for a one-on-one with Krause, event staff suspected the candidate’s husband was recording another video with her security volunteer, Scott Masino. I was. NBC News.

Masino told NBC News that it was not recorded, but Phoenix police were called in to check.

“This is ridiculous,” Masino said. “She watches police officers to make sure they don’t take videos when they aren’t.”

According to Masino, another event staffer said Lake wouldn’t leave the dressing room until it was her turn to go on stage. Lake ignored her request and took her seat in the front row before City Hall started. Masino said he chose it because it was close to the aisle and the exit door.

However, Max Gonzalez, another official with Garcia and his group, said the city hall rules were “absolutely clear” and that Lake should not be in the audience while Hobbes is on stage. rice field.

“Perhaps I can understand why Hobbes was hesitant to take the stage with Lake. This was staged. This was planned,” said Gonzalez.

Lake’s campaign refutes the suggestion that the disruption was staged.

Neither Gonzalez nor Garcia negotiated city hall terms with the campaign, referring relevant questions to state and national Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event co-organizers.

Those organizations, as well as Univision, declined to comment. Another person, who was not authorized to speak on record about the incident, confirmed Garcia’s account of the incident.

Hobbs Campaign provided a pre-event email from the organizers, stating, “Each candidate will have a separate dressing room to prepare and hold before taking the main stage.”

Lake’s camp said it had not received an email and that her words about the hold room read like an amenity provided rather than a request that she remain in isolation.

An eyewitness told NBC News that the show got off to a rocky start when Krause made the introduction and welcomed Hobbes to the stage. Instead, Monica Villalobos, president of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, took the stage to speak.

After placing his finger on an earpiece that was remotely connected to the control room, Krause told Lake he was due to leave the room.

Lake initially refused, and another staff member soon shot a video of her, which was provided to NBC News.

“I really want to be on the same stage. Is that possible?” Lake asked.

Krause replied: [be something you would want to do]And I’m going to ask [Hobbs] about that. trust me. “

Lake said he wanted a “real discussion” and Krause repeated that he would ask Hobbes about it.

“Unfortunately, I cannot share the stage with Miss Hobbes,” he said, reminding Lake to join him on stage later. I can’t invite you. This is not me. This is… a campaign pact.”

As several applauded, Lake stood and turned partially toward the audience. I don’t think you should lock yourself in your room. I want to be part of this We should talk about issues that affect everyone… I want people here to know that I want to sit on stage with Miss Hobbs and talk about important issues.

Lavago then took the stage and told Lake, “I am honored to go to your designated place… This is City Hall. That was our agreement. So that the audience can hear both of you.” If you don’t mind, please continue with the contract.I really appreciate you respecting everyone’s time.”

More people applauded, and Lake said he followed the moment.

“I promise you’ll have plenty of time,” Ravago said. “Both of you have specified the same time. We are going to put you on the stage. please.”

The forum started when she left.

fix (October 8, 7:45 PM ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of one of the voter outreach workers of the group Chicanos Por La Causa Action Fund.He’s Max Gonzales, not Gonzales

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com