TALLAHASSEE – The lone television debspante between Republican Gov. Ron DeSspanntis and Democrat Chspanrlie Crist before the Nov. 8 election has been postponed because of Hurricane Ian, although efforts to reschedule the event are underway.
WPEC-TV CBS 12 in West Palm Beach said the debate scheduled for Oct. 12 from Fort Pierce will be moved to later this month. A station official said discussions are underway with the campaigns to settle on a new date.
Meanwhile, the delay will “allow for the candidates to focus on the immediate recovery efforts throughout Southwest Florida after the devastation from Hurricane Ian,” said Scott Livingston, senior vice-president of news at Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the station.
Once rescheduled, the debate will remain at the Sunrise Theater in Fort Pierce, he added.
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Four years ago, Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, causing widespread damage less than a month before Election Day.
Four years ago, another storm-tossed election season
Despite the impact, DeSantis and Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum took part in already scheduled TV debates in the governor’s race on Oct. 21 and Oct. 24.
In the U.S. Senate race, though, Republican Rick Scott, then Florida’s governor, was directly involved in hurricane recovery efforts, contributing to the postponement of a CNN debate with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that was set for Oct. 16, only six days after the storm’s arrival.
While CNN worked to reschedule, that debate was eventually canceled. The network said the candidates “were unable to agree on a new date.”
Nelson and Scott each blamed the other for the cancellation.
Nelson and Scott, though, had debated on statewide TV before the storm, taking part in an hourlong exchange Oct. 2 from the studios of Telemundo-TV 51 in Miami. This year, for Crist and Scott, the WPEC-TV event is the only debate planned.