Mack/Nelson Oct. 17th Showdown Only Live TV Debate in U.S. Senate Race


Mack/Nelson Oct. 17th Showdown Only Live TV Debate in U.S. Senate Race

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The only confirmed statewide televised debate in America’s most closely watched U.S. Senate race – pitting Florida’s incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D) against Republican challenger U.S. Rep. Connie Mack – is all set for Wednesday, October 17th, to be broadcast live from the campus of Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in Davie, Florida (Broward County).

“Decision 2012: Before You Vote” is the project created and produced by the partnership of Leadership Florida® and the Florida Press Association. Nelson and Mack have agreed to participate in what is shaping up to be the only confirmed statewide-televised debate in the race. The broadcast will begin at 7 p.m. EDT – beamed to millions of Floridians through a “Before You Vote” network of 11 partner television stations blanketing every Sunshine State market.

“Decision 2012: Before You Vote provides millions of Floridians with an important opportunity to get to know the candidates and their views on the critical issues that most affect the future of our state and country,” saidSusan Towler, chairman of Leadership Florida and Executive Director of Community Affairs for Florida Blue. “Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association are pleased to bring this historic event to the people of Florida.”

The debate sponsors and partners also include host site Nova Southeastern University, Florida Blue, Florida Credit Unions, AARP and the Claude Pepper Foundation.

The debate is being produced under the leadership of WPTV NewsChannel 5, Florida’s top-rated television station (highest sign-on/sign-off Nielsen ratings in the state), which produces more than 55 hours of news each week for both WPTV and WFLX FOX 29. WPTV is part of the EW Scripps Company. KO-MAR Productions, of West Palm Beach, is working with WPTV on production of the debate. The production will include a full six-camera production truck and will be produced for distribution in high definition.

The debate broadcast will be moderated by Michael Williams, anchor for WPTV NewsChannel 5, of West Palm Beach. The panel of journalists who will question the candidates includes Anthony Man, political writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Lissette Campos, Director of Community Affairs for ABC Action News/WFTS in Tampa; and Toluse Olorunnipa, state/politics reporter with the Miami Herald.

“Nova Southeastern University continues to perform an important convening role on vital issues by promoting healthy dialogue about how best to build a better future for our state and country,” said George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D., president of NSU. “Once again, we’re proud to host this forum that will effectively serve to educate voters statewide.”

Matt Walsh, Editor & CEO of The Observer Group (Sarasota) and chairman of the Florida Press Association, said Florida’s newspapers will provide robust coverage of the Senate race, which is widely touted as one of the key national races of 2012.

“This debate and news coverage of it will provide voters with the best insight into this campaign about which candidate is better prepared to serve Florida in the U.S. Senate,” said Walsh. “Truly, ‘Before You Vote’ may be the most important political ‘must see TV’ outside of the contest for President in the biggest Florida race in this election year.”

Broadcast partners, carrying the program in every one of Florida’s 11 television markets, include:


Fort Myers WBBH-TV 2 (NBC) / WZVN-HD 7 (ABC)

Gainesville WCJB-TV 20 (ABC) / CW10

Jacksonville FCN WTLV 12 (NBC) / WJXX 25 (ABC)

Miami WTVJ 6 (NBC)

Orlando WKMG 6 (CBS)

Panama City WECP 18 (CBS)

Pensacola WFGX-TV 35 (ABC)

Sarasota WWSB 7 (ABC)

Tallahassee WCTV 6 (CBS)

Tampa WFTS 11 (ABC)

West Palm Beach WPTV 5 (NBC)


Debate participation criteria and additional details are posted at The application for news media credentials to cover the debate also may be obtained through the website.

Leadership Florida has developed a reputation for 31 years as a builder of a stronger, diverse statewide sense of community. A respected non-partisan convener, Leadership Florida has taken the lead in training and developing leaders with a statewide, rather than parochial, view of our state’s needs.

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.