The first debate in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida is now set following weeks of criticism by Gov. Rick Scott of incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson for failing to agree to debate.
The showdown between the two candidates will take place Oct. 2 in Miami.
“Scott has agreed to debate me on Telemundo Oct. 2. Finally, he’s going to have to start answering for the poor job he’s done as governor and how he’s enriched himself in public office,” Nelson posted on Twitter Monday evening.
Scott has agreed to debate me on Telemundo Oct. 2. Finally, he's going to have to start answering for the poor job he's done as governor and how he's enriched himself in public office. – BN
— Nelson for U.S. Senate (@NelsonForSenate) September 10, 2018
Scott responded with his own Twitter post.
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) September 10, 2018
Scott, who accepted the debate invitation earlier this summer, has been critical of Nelson for not agreeing to debates earlier.
“If a candidate refuses to debate, they should not even run for office,” Scott said last month. “Debates are an important opportunity for Floridians to hear firsthand what a candidate believes in, what they have done and what they will continue to do for our state.
The debate is scheduled to last an hour and will be broadcast by Telemundo’s stations in Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm and Orlando. It will be moderated by Telemundo’s senior political reporter Marilys Llanos and WTVJ-NBC senior news anchor Jackie Nespral.
Although he didn’t confirm a second debate, the Nelson campaign acknowledged that a second debate sponsored by CNN could take place in mid-October.
Polls have shown the contest is too close to call and a survey released by Quinnipiac University showed the race to be a dead heat with Scott and Nelson tied at 49 percent each.
“The campaign is a prototype of our nation’s political environment: Democrat Nelson carries women and black voters, while Republican Scott wins among men and white voters,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Brown said the key in the race could be which way independent voters decide to go. The Quinnipiac poll showed Nelson currently leading among independents, 56 – 43 percent.