The Orange County Democratic Party announced over the weekend that the next planned Democratic gubernatorial debate, set to be held on Tuesday, June 26th, will no longer be taking place, and the Democratic candidates are pointing fingers on who’s to blame.
The reason for the cancellation is that the Party was not able to get all 5 candidates to agree on a debate, but they aren’t specifying who was being difficult if that’s the case.
However, Andrew Gillum’s campaign quickly blamed Levine and Graham. Gillum noted that “It’s critical that Orange County voters hear about our priorities for this state, and since my opponents refuse to join me for a debate, I’m looking forward to hosting a town hall in its place on Tuesday night. Floridians need to know where we stand, and who we stand for.”
Shortly thereafter, Chris King’s campaign also blamed Levine and Graham. King also released a statement saying that he’s “disappointed that some candidates in this race have refused invitations to debate in Orlando and Jacksonville. We must compete in every corner of our state and take no one for granted, and that means making sure Spanish language, African American, Caribbean and other diverse media outlets are included as well.”
Matt Harringer, a spokesman for Graham, responding to the blame by saying that Graham is committed to the debate currently scheduled to take place in April. He explained that “Gwen looks forward to participating in all five of the debates that all four candidates at the time, including Mayor Gillum, worked together to schedule and agreed would form the calendar for the primary.”
And, Christian Ulvert, a strategist for Philip Levine, dismissed the blame by saying that the campaign had agreed to the Orange County debate by saying that “Our campaign worked successfully with the Florida Democratic Party on a number of agreed upon debates and forums. After weeks of negotiations, all campaigns agreed to five debates, including a statewide televised debate that will air in Orange County. The Mayor is excited and proud to continue to share his vision for Florida and his progressive record of accomplishments directly with voters in the upcoming three debates and town halls.”