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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Patrick Murphy, Alan Grayson agree to U.S. Senate primary debate

21

July

U.S. Senate candidates Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson have accepted invitations to participate in a Democratic primary debate next month on an Orlando TV station.

The debate is set to be a taped one-hour event sponsored by WFTV News. It is expected to air Aug. 12, with news anchor Greg Warmoth moderating.

It's not clear which other Democratic candidates were invited to participate. Also in the Democratic race are Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith, former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and California real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando.

The debate has yet to be announced by the station.

Florida's party primaries are nearly a month away.

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter considered the frontrunner in the Democratic race, has vowed repeatedly to debate Grayson, his main primary rival and a fellow congressman from Orlando, but the candidates had -- until now -- failed to agree on an event ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

Only one debate has been held so far during the 2016 U.S. Senate campaign -- but that April event was between only Grayson and Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who has since dropped out of the U.S. Senate race and is seeking re-election to the House.

As the Herald/Times reported last week, several TV and radio stations have been trying to organize primary debates for both the Republican and Democratic races, but the biggest obstacle has been the candidates themselves.

Murphy's campaign, in particular, has been called out for being difficult. Murphy declined to participate in both a Aug. 3 debate for Orlando public radio station WMFE and in the Grayson-Jolly debate. For the latter, Murphy's campaign contended he was never invited, but the debate sponsor provided emails that proved otherwise.

No debates have been scheduled on the Republican side, between incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and challenger Carlos Beruff.

This post has been updated.

[Last modified: Thursday, July 21, 2016 8:33pm]

    

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