The date for the only Florida gubernatorial debate has been scheduled for October 15, 2014 at Broward College. On April 29, 2014, Leadership Florida announced the Decision 2014: Before You Vote Debate between Republican Rick Scott, Libertarian Adrian Wyllie and whoever wins the Democratic Primary on August 26, 2014. Democrats Nan Rich and Charlie Crist were both invited, however it is highly likely to be a three-way debate between Crist, Wyllie and Scott.
The debate will be broadcast by C-SPAN and will be moderated by WFOR anchor Eliott Rodriguez and will be one-hour. The debate is also collaborating with the Florida Press Association and will be live streamed on beforeyouvote.org.
“We’re proud to produce this important dialogue between the top contenders vying to be Florida’s next governor,” said president of Broward College and Leadership Florida chair, David Armstrong, in a statement. “This debate will help millions of voters learn more about who these candidates are and where they stand on the issues that affect Floridians the most.”
The invitations included a disclaimer however, which may cause Wyllie to be excluded from the debate. The invitation to the four candidates mentioned above also mentioned that the invitation is subject to participation criteria to be later determined. As of this morning, the criteria have not been posted to the debate’s website. Floridians can only hope the criteria will be fair and not exclusionary as with many debates in the past. Just as Scott and Crist have been touring the state, so has Pinellas County businessman Wyllie and is a serious candidate for the Libertarian Party of Florida.
Most remember the scandal with the 2012 Presidential Debates in which Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee Gary Johnson met the criteria to be included in the debates, however was still excluded. A lawsuit on that matter is still pending and there is a grassroots movement underway to make certain that the Libertarian Presidential nominee is included in the 2016 Presidential Debates.
Last year, the Before You Vote website issued a press release on August 20, 2013 initially announcing the 2014 debate. At that time it listed the criteria was going to be the same criteria as 2012 debates it held which were at least 15 percent support (including the full benefit of a 4 percent +/- margin of error based on a sample size of 625) among all likely voters who w ill participate in the general election, as determined by a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. The question on 20,000 Florida Libertarian’s minds this morning is, “Will Wyllie’s name be included in the polling?” This is the trick often used to exclude a viable Libertarian from the public’s mind. Forcing the criteria to have a candidate show at least 15% in the polls, however never include the Libertarian Party candidate’s name in the poll, so by default, the Libertarian candidate would not qualify to be included in the debates. That is the precise issue Gary Johnson faced in the 2012 Presidential Debates.
The official sponsors of the debate are: Broward College, the Florida Association of Insurance Agents/Trusted Choice, AARP, the Florida League of Cities, the Claude Pepper Center and Foundation, and Florida Credit Unions.