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Democratic candidates for governor to debate in Tampa April 18

The event will be April 18 at Fox 13's studios.
Businessman and gubernatorial candidate Chris King talks to a group of gay and lesbian Democrats in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington) FLBF103
Businessman and gubernatorial candidate Chris King talks to a group of gay and lesbian Democrats in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington) FLBF103
Published Mar. 15, 2018|Updated Mar. 15, 2018

Democratic candidates for governor will hold their first debate in Tampa April 18.

All four candidates will be there.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Orlando businessman Chris King have all confirmed that they will attend the televised April 18 debate at the WTVT-TV Fox 13 studios in Tampa.

King's campaign announced the event in an email challenging the other candidates to a broader series of debates.

"Our campaign has already accepted a televised debate invitation from WTVT-TV in Tampa and we hope the other candidates will join Chris at their studios," the release from campaign spokesman Avery Jaffe read.

Both King and Gillum released statements Thursday that criticized their fellow candidates for not accepting invitations to a broad series of debates.

"If Florida Democrats want to win, we should face the voters and offer them real solutions in a debate, not stale talking points. We must compete in every corner of our state and take no one for granted," King said in a statement.

"Last October, we challenged our fellow Democratic campaigns to at least six debates in red and blue counties across our state," Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan said in a statement. "We are now less than six months from primary election day, but unfortunately we've been met with silence."

But both Graham spokesman Matt Harringer and Levine spokesman Christian Ulvert said that Graham and Levine had agreed to the Tampa debate before the press releases from King and Gillum.

Still, Gillum spokesman Burgan said he hopes the event will be just the first in a series of debates.

"One debate is not nearly enough for a state of 20 million people," Burgan said.

The April 18 event will be the first official debate between candidates for governor — although Gillum and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a likely Republican candidate, held a debate on immigration Feb. 13.

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