Political debates postponed due to hurricane recovery

Andrew Gillum & Ron DeSantis
Andrew Gillum & Ron DeSantis

Curious voters who want to see gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum finally debate during this election cycle are going to have to wait a few more days, thanks to the impact of Hurricane Michael.

Gillum announced over the weekend that due to the damage that the storm unleashed on his home city, the Tallahassee mayor would focus this week on helping the city recover. He may resume campaigning on Thursday.  That means Tuesday night’s debate that was to be broadcast from Orlando by Telemundo will not take place as originally scheduled.

“We will work diligently to ensure Telemundo and its audience are represented in the two scheduled debates and other possible forums,” Gillum said a in press release issued Saturday.

Gillum and DeSantis are still scheduled to hold a Tampa debate next Sunday at 8 p.m. eastern that will be broadcast on CNN.

Also cancelled this week is Tuesday night’s town-hall forum between U.S. Senate candidates Bill Nelson and Rick Scott that was slated to air at 10 p.m. on CNN.

The Scott campaign asked CNN for the postponement last week, saying that the governor was “solely focused on response and recovery efforts” related to the Category 4 storm’s impact on the Panhandle.

“Floridians deserve the chance to see candidates debate so they can judge their leadership skills, experience and differences,” said Scott campaign manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman.

That CNN town-hall would have been the second debate between the candidates, but the first broadcast live throughout the state. The first was broadcast on only a handful of Telemundo affiliates two weeks ago, with most people only seeing it by watching it online.

Scott has not said when he will return back to the campaign trail. The governor will meet up with President Trump later Monday morning at Eglin Air Force Base to get a first-hand look at the effects of the devastating storm in parts of the Panhandle.

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

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