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Fox announces fourth Florida gubernatorial TV debate

Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic challenger could be spending a lot of time under the TV lights in the fall.

Florida's Fox stations, in conjunction with Florida Blue Key and the Florida Law Review, on Tuesday announced yet another statewide TV debate in the 2014 governor's race. The fourth debate to be announced, it would be held first, Sept. 29, at the University of Florida in Gainesville and will air from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. before a live studio audience, moderated by anchors John Brown of WOFL in Orlando and Mark Wilson of WTVT in Tampa.

Florida Blue Key said it has invited Scott and the two leading Democrats, Charlie Crist and Nan Rich, and that "the debate may also include other candidates who meet the criterion for eligibility to be released at a later date." Libertarian Party of Florida candidate Adrian Wyllie qualified Monday for the November ballot for governor.

Three other live TV debates are planned in the first two weeks of October, two in Tampa and one in Davie. Scott and Democrat Alex Sink debated each other twice in the last campaign for governor in 2010.

Pushing Crist to debate Rich

For months, Gov. Rick Scott's campaign and the Republican Party of Florida have flogged Charlie Crist for ducking Democratic rival Nan Rich, who made her candidacy official Tuesday by filing her paperwork.

It's fair game, but Crist has said for months he won't debate Rich and give her the statewide exposure her low-budget campaign desperately needs.

The GOP launched a "Demand Charlie Crist do the right thing" online petition and a "Charlie's debate clock," counting the hours Crist avoided debating Rich.

Now Scott has two opponents who have qualified for the Aug. 26 primary ballot. Unlike Rich, who was Senate Democratic leader, neither Yinka Adeshina nor Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, have held elective office.

Scott sidestepped the question of whether he would debate them. "I haven't even met them yet," he said Tuesday.

Senate delivers 97-0 milestone

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Darrin P. Gayles reached an American milestone Tuesday when the U.S. Senate confirmed him as a federal judge, making Gayles the first openly gay African-American male jurist to sit on the bench.

The vote was 97-0.

Gayles has served on the Florida circuit court since 2011 and before on the Miami-Dade county court. He graduated from George Washington University School of Law.

In February, President Barack Obama nominated Gayles and officials noted that he would be the first openly gay black male federal judge. That distinction generated opposition to the president's nomination of another Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge.

Last year, Obama's appointment of state Circuit Judge William L. Thomas as a federal judge for the Southern District of Florida ran into a dead end after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, blocked his appointment.

Bush's Common Core problem

Jeb Bush has attracted a new following: Common Core opponents.

Bush was in Cincinnati on Monday for a GOP fundraiser, part of his increasingly visible travel schedule, and critics staged a protest. A video was posted on YouTube. Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported on the problem Common Core presents Bush with the activist base, but also his refusal to waver on the standards, as other politicians have. The Tampa Bay Times recently reported on the money Bush's nonprofit education foundation has taken from pro-Common Core interests. The Bush camp scoffed at the criticism, noting he has been a longtime education advocate.

Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary and the Miami Herald contributed.

Fox announces fourth Florida gubernatorial TV debate 06/17/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 9:04pm]
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