Katie Hobbs Makes a Quiet Coming Out on Stage with Other Governors | Phoenix New Times

You Snooze You Lose: Hump Day Hits Katie Hobbs Hard

Katie Hobbs spent hours on a stage inside a swanky ballroom on Wednesday, just two days after certifying her place as the governor-elect of Arizona. You hardly knew she was there.
Governor-elect Katie Hobbs rested her eyes during an event with other Western governors on December 7.
Governor-elect Katie Hobbs rested her eyes during an event with other Western governors on December 7. Elias Weiss
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Katie Hobbs spent three hours on a stage inside a swanky ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore resort on Wednesday, just two days after certifying her place as the governor-elect of Arizona.

Flanked by other governors and political dignitaries, it was her time to bask in the spotlight as the belle of the ball. Instead, you hardly knew she was there.

Hobbs didn’t utter a single peep during her time on stage at the winter meeting of the Western Governors’ Association. She spent most of the time with her head bowed, either tapping the screen on her cell phone or closing her eyes and appearing to be sleeping.

Hobbs agreed to attend as a panelist in the stead of Governor Doug Ducey and participate in three panel discussions and a business session. She was joined on stage by more than a dozen panelists, each of whom spoke at length about policy ideas, parleyed with each other, and asked questions.

Hobbs was the only one to stay silent.

In late November, the WGA announced that Hobbs would join five governors and a multitude of political dignitaries to “host discussions” and participate in “public conversations with regional policymakers and industry experts” about housing and other important regional issues.

But Hobbs did not participate.

The WGA event came as part of a busy week for the outgoing secretary of state. On Monday, she certified her win in the state’s gubernatorial race against Kari Lake, and on Tuesday, she spent time with President Joe Biden at a semiconductor factory in Phoenix.

By Wednesday, hump day hit Hobbs hard.

She didn’t muster a single remark during a conversation with Tom Simplot, director of the Arizona Department of Housing, about the housing shortage in the state. Yet in early November, she announced her own plan for addressing affordable housing and was praised by housing advocates.

At one point during the discussion, conference chair and Colorado Governor Jared Polis turned to Hobbs and asked if she had any questions or comments. She looked up from her cell phone for a fleeting moment to silently shake her head no.
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Governor-elect Katie Hobbs didn't actively participate in a Western Governors’ Association event or respond to media questions on December 7 — almost as if she wasn't even there.
Elias Weiss

‘A Funky Time’

In late October, the New York Times asked the looming question, “Where’s Katie?” She had been playing her own game of “Where’s Waldo?” along the campaign trail, dodging questions from reporters and declining to participate in debates. She drew criticism from even her own supporters that her campaign was too subdued.

Even after certifying her win in the governor’s race, Hobbs faces lawsuits and scrutiny over a voter-registration database error that impacted more than 6,000 voters and an election day bungle that saw 31 percent of voting centers experience printer-related issues.

Yet even defeating Lake, a media-savvy protégé of former President Donald Trump, wasn’t enough to break Hobbs’ habit of avoiding tough conversations and simple questions from reporters.

Hobbs refused to debate Lake ahead of the election, citing her opponent’s penchant for spouting false conspiracy theories. But she also backed out of a debate with Marco Lopez in the Democratic primary.

In October, Hobbs spilled her drink in a panicked attempt to flee from a conservative activist who asked her a question at a fast-food restaurant. She sprinted into a bathroom to hide.

When journalists stood in the lobby of a television studio later that month, waiting to ask her questions, Hobbs rode in a freight elevator and slipped out the back door of the building.

On Wednesday, after her appearance at the governors' meeting, she gave Phoenix New Times the same treatment.

When asked by a reporter why she didn't actively participate in any of the panels, Hobbs said, “Can you have my office schedule something? I’d rather do it that way.”

When told that her office has never communicated with New Times, Hobbs told us, “Okay, I’m sorry. Thank you.” And briskly walked away.

Hobbs’ campaign has never returned a phone call, voicemail, email, text message, or any other communication from New Times. On December 1, spokesperson Joe Wolf refused to answer a question about a political action committee run by a Hobbs supporter that received dubious crypto cash and hung up the phone.

Event organizers on Wednesday did their best to explain Hobbs’ belly flop.

“I don’t know why she didn’t participate,” WGA Communications Director Jack Spina told New Times. “It was just a funky time having these winter meetings during an election year.”

Spina suggested that Hobbs had “such a crazy schedule” and offered that she likely kept quiet because “it’s a great chance to listen and learn from the other governors.”

But Hobbs, engrossed in her cell phone as each of her fellow panelists engaged in vibrant conversation, didn’t seem to be paying attention.

“We are still appreciative that she made time to show up," Spina said.
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