At least one statewide TV debate taking shape for gov’s raceby John Kennedy | August 20th, 2013
The Florida Press Association and Leadership Florida said Tuesday they will host a statewide television debate between the leading contenders for governor next year, likely about two weeks before the Nov. 4 election.
The two organizations have been sponsoring debates in the governor’s race and U.S. Senate contests since 2004. Television debates in potential primary contests for the Democratic and Republican nominations and faceoffs between the candidates in the Cabinet races are also possibilities next year, the sponsors said.
David Armstrong, chairman of Leadership Florida and president of Broward College, said the TV debate in the governor’s race could prove the only face-to-face statewide meeting between the candidates.
“This promises to be a high point in what could be an historic election,” Armstrong said Tuesday in announcing the plans.
As it has before, Leadership Florida, which was created by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Florida Press Association, plan to partner with a network affiliate TV station in each of Florida’s 11 principal markets, from Miami to Pensacola. The host site for the debate is expected to be announced this October.
Organizers said the debate is not limited to the Democratic and Republican nominees. But for a third-party candidate to get a place on the stage, organizers have set a standard that the contender must draw at least 15 percent in a publicly recognized poll.
The 15 percent bar, however, has some wiggle room. It allows for a plus-or-minus 4 percent margin-of-error, meaning a candidate could attract as little as 11 percent support and still get a debate invite, organizers said.