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Debate preps already under way for Florida's 2014 gubernatorial race

2:38 PM, Aug 20, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The 2014 election is 14 months away, and the Democrats only have one candidate so far for governor, but planning is already under way for a debate between Florida's gubernatorial candidates.

Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association are teaming up to produce a one-hour, live debate that will be broadcast statewide.

The date is not set but the debate will be held in mid-October next year before the November 4th election.

The debate will be open to any candidates who get at least 15 percent support from likely voters in a recognized poll.

"Floridians will have a front-row seat in the most important dialogue about the future of our state as they see and hear where the top candidates for governor stand on the issues that matter most," said Wendy Abberger of Leadership Florida.

The threshold to be eligible for the debate has increased in recent years. Abberger said in 2010, candidates could participate if they earned 12 percent of the vote in a poll. It was raised to 15 percent in 2012.

Abberger was asked if that level is fair for third-party candidates.

"We did research across the country to see what was the reasonable amount and it's plus-or-minus 4 percent. So someone, for instance like the Libertarians, who are polling right now at 9 percent, if they were to hit 11 percent by the time of the election by getting their candidate out in the media, then he or she would qualify to be able to participate."

Leadership Florida Chairman David Armstrong, who is also the president of Broward College, said the debate's location has not been selected either but he expects it to take place on the campus of a college or university in Florida.

"This is going to be an exciting time for what's shaping up to be the most interesting elections cycle. It's one that will make history, no doubt, and we want to make sure that everyone in the state of Florida has a chance to make an informed decision about who they'd prefer to lead the Sunshine State for the next four years."

Gov. Rick Scott plans to run for re-election. Former Sen. Nan Rich is the only announced candidate on the Democratic side so far.

Dave Heller

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