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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate candidates Alan Grayson and David Jolly face off Monday in unusual debate



U.S. Senate candidates Alan Grayson and David Jolly will face off Monday night in an unusual "open debate" in which the public can submit questions and vote on what questions they want asked.

U.S. Reps. Grayson, D-Orlando, and Jolly, R-Indian Shores, more than six weeks ago agreed to debate each other, declaring themselves (without convincing evidence) the clear frontunners for their respective party's senate nominations. Then a bi-partisan group called the Open Debate Coalition stepped up to host the debate, which will include an open video feed, allowing any website or TV station to broadcast it live or re-broadcast it later without worrying about copyright.

Anyone can suggest questions or vote on questions at starting today until 12 p.m. Monday. The hour-long debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

“Bottom-up Open Debates unite people across the political spectrum because they are not about right versus left, but new versus old. With modern technology, we can utilize the wisdom of crowds at and bypass silly questions, gotcha questions, and questions about the news of the week – and focus on issues voters care about most," said Lilia Tamm, Open Debate Coalition Program Director.

Why only Jolly and Grayson? Open debate said it used the eligibility criteria of the Commission on Presidential debates, inviting candidates who "averaged 15 percent or more support in publicly-released polls taken in the year 2016" and that Democrat Patrick Murphy declined to participate and no other Republican met the threshold.

Debate moderators will include The Young Turks, the popular, liberal news channel on YouTube, and the conservative Independent Journal Review.  Other distribution channels will be announced in coming days.

Anyone across the country can submit and vote on questions, but only Florida votes will be counted when selecting questions. Others can cast votes to impact which questions are trending or most seen on the site, influencing which questions Florida voters see and vote on most.

Said Jolly: "This is a debate over the future of Florida, officiated by the voters, and intended to present two contrasting visions for the future of the country."

Grayson said "the Open Debate Coalition model helps ensure we actually respond to the will of the people – and not just answer to the whims and wishes of the Establishment and special interest agendas.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 9:49am]


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