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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rally focuses on children's issues, presses for Rick Scott to debate



The Children's Movement of Florida hosted a rally at Lowry Park Zoo on Thursday drawing kids and their advocates for entertainment interspersed with speeches that had the little ones wiggling in their seats.

The rally was one of 15 scheduled for the state leading up to an Oct. 16 gubernatorial debate in Miami that will focus solely on children's issues. So far, only Alex Sink has agreed to participate in the debate.

At Thursday's rally, Children's Movement founder David Lawrence, former publisher of the Miami Herald, chastised Republican Rick Scott for not accepting the invitation. "What could be more important to someone who wants to be governor of the state than speaking publicly about what he plans to do for the children of Florida?" Lawrence said to cheers. Among the group's priorities: prekindergarten, parent skill-building and mentoring programs.

The Children's Movement has a nonpartisan steering committee that includes Allan Bense, Bob Butterworth, Betty Castor, Toni Jennings and Nan Rich. Sandy Murman, a Republican running for the Hillsborough County Commission, is also a steering committee member. She was at the rally Thursday. "I'm not here as a candidate," said Murman. "This is about fighting for children." She'll face Democrat John Dingfelder in the race for the District 1 commission seat in November.

And speaking of Rick Scott, he was spotted in downtown Tampa Thursday with USF president Judy Genshaft and TECO energy head John Ramil. Genshaft declined to say whether she was supporting Scott or Sink for governor, saying the winner will be her "best friend" no matter who it is. Ramil, who heads USF's board of trustees, said when the three met Scott talked about the importance of education for creating jobs.

Janet Zink, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 11:22am]


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