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Arizona GOP gubernatorial debate ‘feels like a spoof’ in the words of the Trump-backed frontrunner

Candidate for Arizona Governor Kari Lake

Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

  • Multiple candidates spread election and COVID-19 misinformation during Wednesday’s GOP debate in Arizona.
  • “I feel like this is a spoof,” said Trump-backed candidate Kari Lake during the debate on Arizona PBS.
  • Ted Simons, the moderator, tried to end the program by repeatedly saying “that’s it” but candidates talked over him. 

Republican candidates Kari Lake, Scott Neely, Karrin Taylor Robson, and Paola Tulliani Zen, all vying for governor of Arizona, spent Wednesday evening talking over each other, spreading misinformation, and wondering whether or not they were in a real-life “Saturday Night Live” skit. 

The debate, moderated by Ted Simons, host of “Arizona Horizon” on Arizona PBS, featured Robson repeatedly calling Lake “Fake Lake” for alleging she supported mask mandates, Neely saying he would take steel to the border wall himself to finish it, and Neely saying, unprompted, that he hadn’t “been on a stage with this many women since I’ve been to a baby shower.”

Neely, who made some of the most outlandish comments, called Lake’s campaign a “PSYOP,” short for a military tactic known as psychological operations.

Both Lake and Robson also said they would support an Arizona law banning most abortions that passed before 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision. The law, which will take effect once again in the state, also includes provisions to criminalize abortion providers. 

—Enda O’Dowd (@endajodowd) July 1, 2022


Simons’ efforts to keep the insults and tangential comments to a minimum proved futile. Tuliana-Zen even exclaimed “mamma mia” in frustration.

At one point in the debate, Lake asked if it was an “SNL” skit.

“I feel like this is a spoof, honestly,” Lake said. “Is this a spoof, Ted? Are you sure?”

Simmons ended the program by repeatedly saying “that’s it” as candidates continued to talk over him. 

Arizona will vote for its next governor on November 8. Republican Governor Doug Ducey will be term-limited this year and is unable to run for re-election. Democrat candidates include Marco Lopez and Katie Hobbs. 

Polls show Hobbs to be the favored candidate for governor, while Lake and Robson are nearly tied on the Republican side. 

Lake, endorsed by Trump, has recently been fighting a claim she was friends with Arizona drag personality Richard Stevens. Lake, who recently took an anti-drag queen stance, has called the allegations lies, despite the existence of photos of Lake and Stevens together.

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