You can’t have a major political campaign unless the candidates debate, right? Usually, they are over-scripted, overhyped and underperforming, but a Florida Governor’s debate between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis should be memorable.
Both sides were working out the specifics on Monday, but it looks like this is going to happen.
You would assume someone will be trying to convince Gillum it is his chance to show voters he is not, as DeSantis has painted him, a tax-loving far-left wacko. But you know what? If he retreats too much from the populist proposals that got him this far, his campaign wouldn’t be intellectually honest.
So, he should go for it.
Medicare for everyone? Medicaid expansion? Lots more money for schools? Raise teachers’ salaries after years of GOP mockery about public education? And by the way, remember that “monkey it up” comment DeSantis made on national television? Let’s revisit that.
And for DeSantis, it’s a chance to show voters he can be his own man if he is put in charge of the state and not just a Donald Trump Mini-Me — but that wouldn’t be honest either.
DeSantis has made it clear he completely supports President Trump’s policies and agenda. His whole primary campaign against Adam Putnam was built around the endorsement by “the big man himself” and he can’t run from that now.
I don’t believe he will, either.
That’s why I believe sparks should and will fly when these two.
They offer completely different visions for the state, and it could (cross your fingers) get testy. But that’s what we all should want.
Remember the infamous “controversy” around Charlie Crist’s use of a fan in his podium during his 2014 debate with Rick Scott? Scott threatened to call the whole thing off, with a national TV audience watching, because he said the fan violated agreed-upon rules.
Florida looked pretty silly that night to the rest of the country, even by Florida standards. If there is controversy during DeSantis-Gillum, I want the real thing.
Let ‘er rip, gentlemen.
These men passionately believe that Florida will thrive under their plan, and that fire and pestilence will rain down from the sky if the voters choose the other candidate. They should conduct themselves accordingly.
I almost wish they would stage these things without moderators. Just have the candidates on stage in easy chairs, arguing back and forth about health care, immigration, minimum wage, and whether Ryan Fitzpatrick should remain the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback when Jameis Winston returns.
A Florida Governor’s debate like that would be just like what plays out every day in living rooms and corner bars across the state. It would be real.
Consultants would never let it happen though, so we have to hope for the next-best result.
Both men are confident that they are the right choice for the state, even if they speak for distinctly different audiences.
Gillum appeals to younger voters, the disenfranchised, minorities, and people who think Republicans care only about the wealthy.
DeSantis appeals to those who believe all Democrats want to do is create expensive government-controlled boondoggles that simply won’t work as well as the free market.
Both men have compelling personal stories. Both have powerful political donors and machines behind them. They need something else, though. They need to convince voters that they are the right choice, and they won’t do that by playing it safe.
Game on, gentlemen.
You want to be Governor?
No holding back.