First U.S. Senate debate pits David Jolly, Alan Grayson against each other
The field to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate is a crowded one, but you wouldn't know it from the campaign's first debate Monday night.
Two of the seven candidates for the open seat — U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and David Jolly, R-Indian Shores— faced off in Orlando, debating economics, abortion, the environment and campaign finance.
The time spent on campaign finance allowed both candidates to highlight centerpieces of their campaigns.
Jolly has been riding a wave of good publicity for 48 hours after a 60 Minutes report Sunday on legislation he proposed called the "Stop Act." It would ban federal elected officials from personally asking for money.
This weekend's broadcast showed images of members of Congress dialing for contributions in what Jolly called "sweatshop phone booths."
"Let's get members of Congress off the phone and shaking down the American people for money," he said Monday.
For his part, Grayson's campaign has repeatedly touted small-dollar-donors' support, though his campaign has also relied heavily on loans from himself.
"This is a revolution," he said, echoing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. "It's happening right before our eyes."
The debate, sponsored by the Open Debate Coalition, included questions submitted and voted for online, part of an effort to ask the kinds of questions that really interest voters. It was moderated by Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks Network and Benny Johnson of the Independent Journal Review, both national political websites.
Jolly and Grayson announced the debate after a March poll showed them leading other candidates for the Aug. 30 primary. Yet nearly half of voters in both parties were undecided in that poll, which came before a fifth Republican candidate entered the race.
Jolly is running against U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach; Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami; Bradenton homebuilder Carlos Beruff and Orlando defense contractor Todd Wilcox. In the Democratic primary, Grayson is running against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.
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