In what could be the only face-to-face statewide televised showdown between Florida’s two top candidates for Governor next year, Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association announced today they will continue their successful partnership to produce a live debate between the gubernatorial nominees of the two leading political parties. The debate will be part of the “Decision 2014: Before You Vote” project designed to give voters their best opportunity to learn candidates’ positions on the most pressing issues facing the state.
“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 David Armstrong, chairman of Leadership Florida and president of Broward College. “The best way to level the playing field is to subject the candidates to fair and informed questioning by journalists and give the voters unfiltered access to the answers. That’s exactly what we aim to provide, again.”
The one-hour debate will be broadcast from a venue to be announced at a later date and will be held in mid-October 2014, shortly before the November 4 general election. The host site will become Florida’s political epicenter as the debate is distributed across the state on multiple platforms including television, radio, print and social media. As in its past debates, the debate project intends to partner with a key network affiliate television station in each of Florida’s 11 principal markets: Miami/Ft. Lauderdale; West Palm Beach; Orlando; Jacksonville; Tampa/St. Petersburg; Sarasota; Fort Myers; Gainesville; Tallahassee; Panama City; and Pensacola.
“This debate will require direct, thoughtful answers from those nominees who hope to be our next governor,” said David Dunn-Rankin, President, Sun Coast Media Group and Chair of the Florida Press Association. “Our member newspapers are proud to help set the pace as we continue our mission to give voters the best information possible.”
Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association are continuing their history – begun in 2004 – of producing balanced, non-partisan candidate debates with a focus on fairness and non-partisanship.
To be included in the debate, a candidate must meet the same criteria established by the debate partners for 2012 debates, including 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 will participate in the general election, as determined by a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.
The debate partnership has successfully ‘landed’ the major candidates in its prior projects – and expects the major candidates to commit to this debate as invitations are issued in the near future.
For 31 years, Leadership Florida has provided a non-partisan, non-parochial perspective about statewide topics of concern and opportunities while encouraging collaboration among the state’s leadership.
The Florida Press Association is a nonprofit corporation designed to protect the freedoms and advance the professional standards of the press in Florida, with a membership that includes most of Florida’s daily and weekly newspapers.