Gubernatorial primary debates set for Aug. 1 and 2 at the University of Miami - Florida Politics

Gubernatorial primary debates set for Aug. 1 and 2 at the University of Miami

Candidates vying to succeed Rick Scott in the Governor’s Mansion will get a chance to plead their cases to Florida voters in a pair of debates set to take place a few weeks before the Aug. 28 primary elections.

The Children’s Movement of Florida and the Florida Press Association announced the debates, to be held Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 at the University of Miami, in a Wednesday news release.

“The vision and direction offered by Florida’s next governor will dramatically affect the lives of Floridians in every part of our state — from children to the elderly,” said David Lawrence Jr., chair of The Children’s Movement. “These debates let voters hear what the candidates think on critical issues ranging from early childhood education, health care, environmental protection, and public safety to jobs and economic development.”

Dean Ridings, president and CEO of the Florida Press Association statewide network of newspapers, agreed that the primary debates will be essential in helping voters make up their minds about which candidate wins their support and vote.

“With a long, diverse list of candidates already announced or expected to get into the race, we’re anticipating vigorous primary campaigns with thoughtful discussion of the issues in these vital debates,” said Ridings. “This is a very effective way for Florida voters to compare and contrast the candidates, side-by-side, and to see and hear their ability to present a plan that can take us all into the best possible future.”

UM President Julio Frenk added that hosting the debates — part of “The Race for Governor” project — will fulfill one of the institution’s missions by making the Coral Gables campus a center of engagement.

“The University of Miami is proud to host these debates and foster a productive dialogue among the candidates for governor,” Frenk said. “Our students, faculty, and staff will be deeply involved in helping prepare the campus for both debates and for spirited conversations about the issues that will be examined.”

Republican candidates — currently U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran likely to join shortly — will take the stage at UM’s Maurice Gusman Concert Hall on one of the evenings, while the Democratic field — currently Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — will get the other.

Each debate is scheduled to run one hour in the 7 p.m. time slot and will be broadcast on TV stations in each of Florida’s media markets.

It has not yet been determined which set of candidates will go first, though both parties have been notified of the dates and times. Also to be determined is the threshold of support candidates will need in the polls to be granted a spot behind the lectern, though organizers said those details will be hammered out in the coming weeks.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale CBS affiliate WFOR will serve as the production television station for the debates, and station VP/General Manager Adam Levy said he is confident both events will enjoy significant live viewership and an additional audience via rebroadcast of the programs on multiple platforms.

“These high-profile events will attract a significant and diverse viewership,” he said. “Our commitment is to produce an excellent exchange among the candidates in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.”

Other stations signed on to broadcast: WPBF (ABC) in West Palm Beach, WESH (NBC) in Orlando, First Coast News in Jacksonville, WCJB (ABC) in Gainesville, WFLA (NBC) in the Tampa Bay area, WCTV (CBS) in Tallahassee, WEAR (ABC) in Pensacola and WMBB (ABC) in Panama City. The debates will air on either WBBH (NBC) or WZVN (ABC) in the Fort Myers market.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

5 Comments

  1. HUMAN TRAFFICKING IS ALIVE AND WELL IN FLORIDA BY FLORIDA OFFICIALS USING LAW ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES FOR ABSOLUTE CONTROL. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE NEXT GOVERNOR IS GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS IS IGNORE ALL SEX CRIMES COMPLAINTS AGAINST LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS AND USE SERIAL STALKING TO CALL THE VICTIM MENTAL.

  2. RICK SCOTT HATES WOMAN BASED ON THE WAY I’VE BEEN SERIALLY THREATENED AND STALKED TO KEEP QUIET BY PINELLAS AND HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT.

    THE MENTAL CARD HAS BEEN THE GO TO CARD FOR STATE OFFICIALS TO DO NOTHING ABOUT LAW ENFORCEMENT USING INTELLIGENCE RESOURCES TO PROMOTE HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

  3. Instead of the usual “yin-yang” of Democrats and Republicans arguing over who is more efficient at redistributing your money, why not do the voters a REAL favor this time, by including the third-largest political party in Florida?

    Specifically, please include Randy Wiseman, who is the LIBERTARIAN candidate for Governor. It would be a real eye-opener for the voters, to know that they are not limited to the usual choices. Libertarians have been described as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but that’s only the beginning.

    1. Libertarians are jokes. Literally stripping naked at their conventions. Truly the leaders we need!

      1. OK, point taken. A really cheap shot, but literally and technically correct. We insist only that members of our party subscribe to the NAP (“Non-Aggression Principle”). Other than that, they are free to “let it all hang out”, so to speak, and some of them really get into the spirit of the occasion. (I cannot imagine Elizabeth Warren or Steve Bannon doing any such thing). Take a look at the rigid orthodoxy that is so vigorously imposed by the Democrats and by the Republicans, and maybe we don’t look so bad. Then, take a look at our platform instead, and maybe you’ll really be impressed.

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