TAMPA — The Tampa Tribune, WEDU-TV and Genesis Communications along with community partners will host a debate in the strategically critical Interstate 4 corridor for general election candidates in the 2014 Florida governor’s race.
“We know the Tampa Bay region will be pivotal in deciding who Florida’s next governor will be,’’ said Tribune Managing Editor Ken Koehn. “That’s why there is no better place to debate the issues than right here in the heart of Tampa.’’
The media coalition along with the Tampa Tiger Bay Club and Rotary Club of Tampa will host the debate this fall in WEDU’s Tampa studios.
The debate will be available to PBS and NPR stations to air statewide, and it will be simulcast on radio stations and websites operated by Genesis Communications.
Local Genesis stations include AM 820 News, Sports Talk AM 1040 The Team, and CNN Español AM 1470.
That means the debate will be accessible to 99 percent of Florida’s citizens, said WEDU president and CEO Susan Howarth.
The Tribune’s website, TBO.com, will also produce an interactive component for the debate audience.
Howarth said Florida’s public broadcasting stations “have a long history of producing debates featuring candidates for statewide office, and WEDU PBS is proud to continue that tradition as lead producing station for the other PBS and NPR stations.”
The debate will be moderated by veteran political journalist Rob Lorei, managing editor of Florida This Week on WEDU-TV and co-founder of WMNF-FM radio.
The date for the debate hasn’t yet been set and is being left flexible to coordinate with candidates’ schedules. The media coalition is considering what criteria will be used to determine which candidates will be invited to participate.
None of the major candidates for governor -- Democrats Charlie Crist and Nan Rich and incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott — were prepared Wednesday to commit to any debate proposal.
Rich said she’s “absolutely interested in doing it” because the proposal involves “credible, independent organizations that will provide an opportunity for the candidates to talk about their records and help educate the voters.”
Crist spokesman Kevin Cate said by email, “While we need to hammer out the details, Governor Crist’s desire to debate Rick Scott is well known.”