Millions of Florida voters will get their best review of the key candidates for governor before the primary election this year in exciting back-to-back-nights, one-hour statewide-televised debates, announced today by the Children’s Movement of Florida and the Florida Press Association. The debates in the Republican and Democratic primary races will be held on the campus of the University of Miami on the evenings of August 1 and 2, less than four weeks before the August 28 primary narrows the crowded field down to two nominees who will then face off in the general election.
The Republican and Democratic primary debates – part of “The Race for Governor” project – will be held on successive nights in UM’s Maurice Gusman Concert Hall, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. A live audience of 600 will be joined by an expected massive television audience around the state in scrutinizing the leading candidates for their parties’ nominations to direct Florida government for the next four years. With Governor Rick Scott term-limited out of office and expected to run for the U.S. Senate, the field is wide open – and intense national attention already is focused on what are shaping up to be hotly contested, robust races in both parties.
The debate programs will be broadcast statewide through a consortium of TV stations in Florida’s 10 major media markets. The twin debates will be produced by South Florida CBS station WFOR/Channel 4, with key guidance from veteran producer and project consultant Philip Alongi, a former longtime executive producer for NBC News. Criteria for candidates to qualify for participation in the debates will be announced soon, and major candidates in both parties are expected to appear.
“The vision and direction offered by Florida’s next governor will dramatically affect the lives of Floridians in every part of our state – from children to the elderly,” said David Lawrence Jr., chair of The Children’s Movement. “These debates let voters hear what the candidates think on critical issues ranging from early childhood education, health care, environmental protection, and public safety to jobs and economic development.”
Dean Ridings, president and CEO of the Florida Press Association statewide network of newspapers, agreed that the primary debates will be essential in helping voters make up their minds about which candidate wins their support and vote.
“With a long, diverse list of candidates already announced or expected to get into the race, we’re anticipating vigorous primary campaigns with thoughtful discussion of the issues in these vital debates,” said Ridings. “This is a very effective way for Florida voters to compare and contrast the candidates, side-by-side, and to see and hear their ability to present a plan that can take us all into the best possible future.”
Fulfilling one of its missions, UM will become the center of engagement by hosting the debates, which dozens of journalists from Florida and around the nation are expected to attend and cover.
“The University of Miami is proud to host these debates and foster a productive dialogue among the candidates for governor,” said UM President Julio Frenk. “Our students, faculty, and staff will be deeply involved in helping prepare the campus for both debates and for spirited conversations about the issues that will be examined.”
WFOR Vice President/General Manager Adam Levy said he is confident that the statewide televised debates will enjoy a significant live viewership and an additional audience via rebroadcast of the programs on multiple platforms.
“These high-profile events will attract a significant and diverse viewership,” Levy said. “Our commitment is to produce an excellent exchange among the candidates in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.”
In addition to WFOR serving as the production television station for the debates, other broadcast partners in the statewide consortium include:
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale —WFOR (CBS)
West Palm Beach ——–WPBF (ABC)
Jacksonville —————-First Coast News
Tampa/St. Pete————WFLA (NBC)
Panama City—————-WMBB (ABC)
Fort Myers——————-Either WBBH (NBC) or WZVN (ABC)
The Florida Press Association is a nonprofit organization with a purpose to protect the freedoms and advance the professional standards of the press in Florida, with a membership of Florida’s daily and weekly newspapers and online local media. Visit flpress.com to learn more.
The Children’s Movement of Florida is a nonpartisan grassroots movement of Floridians insisting on increased investment in the first five years for all our children. We advocate for high-quality early learning opportunities, access to health care, and parent skill-building programs – three pillars young children need to thrive. Visit childrensmovementflorida.org to learn more.
The University of Miami‘s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. miami.edu