GOP candidates’ refusal to participate leads to cancelation of Cabinet debatesby Dara Kam | September 22nd, 2010
With two of the three GOP Florida Cabinet candidates refusing to participate in a debate next month, organizers had no choice but to cancel the event.
Attorney general candidate Pam Bondi and Senate President Jeff Atwater, the Republican nominee for chief financial officer, would not agree to debate their Democratic opponents, Florida Press Association president Dean Ridings said today. The press association and Leadership Florida had planned to host the Oct. 5 event at the University of Florida.
GOP agriculture commissioner candidate Adam Putnam was the only Republican who signed up for the debate, Ridings said.
“Pam Bondi and Jeff Atwater would not confirm. We are pretty much at the deadline. And every indication was that they would not participate,” Ridings said. “It didn’t make sense just to do the one” debate, Ridings said.
Bondi’s spokeswoman said a “scheduling conflict” prohibited the former prosecutor from debating with Dan Gelber, a former federal prosecutor who defeated fellow state senator Dave Aronberg in the Democratic primary.
And Atwater’s campaign spokesman gave a lengthy explanation as to why the North Palm Beach banker wouldn’t agree to debate opponent Loranne Ausley, a former state representative from Tallahassee, on Oct. 5.
“The schedule in these final weeks of the campaign is packed with candidate forums, grassroots organizing, and travel around the state. There are countless requests of Jeff’s time and we simply can’t be everywhere all the time,” Atwater campaign spokesman Brian Hughes said in an e-mail.
Everyday, in communities that stretch from the Panhandle to the Keys,
Jeff Atwater is talking to Floridians and sharing his plans to reduce
the burden of government on small business owners, fight the fraud and
waste that squander taxpayer dollars, and champion the entrepreneurial
spirit that will grow our economy and create jobs.