Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Orange County Democratic Party cancels planned debate; Gillum, King blame Graham, Levine

Gillum said he will host his own town hall in Orange County Tuesday.
The four Democratic nominees for governor met Wednesday in the first gubernatorial debate in Tampa. From left to right: Chris King, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Andrew Gillum. [WTVT-Ch. 13]
The four Democratic nominees for governor met Wednesday in the first gubernatorial debate in Tampa. From left to right: Chris King, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Andrew Gillum. [WTVT-Ch. 13]
Published Jun. 22, 2018
Updated Jun. 22, 2018

The Orange County Democratic Party announced Friday that it won't host a gubernatorial debate Tuesday, June 26. Andrew Gillum and Chris King are blaming their opponents, Philip Levine and Gwen Graham.

In a release Friday afternoon, the Orange County Democrats said they'd been working for weeks to schedule a debate, but they couldn't get all five candidates to agree to one. The organization didn't name names.

Gillum's campaign did. Spokesman Geoff Burgan said it was Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor and Graham, the former congresswoman, who held out in a Friday afternoon release.

"It's critical that Orange County voters hear about our priorities for this state, and since my opponents refuse to join me for a debate, I'm looking forward to hosting a town hall in its place on Tuesday night," Gillum, Tallahassee's mayor, said in a statement. "Floridians need to know where we stand, and who we stand for."

And then a few minutes later, Chris King's campaign sent out a release of its own blaming Levine and Graham for the cancellation.

"I'm disappointed that some candidates in this race have refused invitations to debate in Orlando and Jacksonville. We must compete in every corner of our state and take no one for granted, and that means making sure Spanish language, African American, Caribbean and other diverse media outlets are included as well," King said in a statement.

A spokesman for Graham said the candidate will participate in the debates agreed to in April by the four candidates at the time: Graham, Levine, Gillum and King, an Orlando businessman. A fifth candidate, south Florida real estate mogul Jeff Greene, has since joined the race.

"Gwen looks forward to participating in all five of the debates that all four candidates at the time, including Mayor Gillum, worked together to schedule and agreed would form the calendar for the primary," the spokesman, Matt Harringer, said in a statement.

Christian Ulvert, a Levine strategist, noted that the Democrats had agreed to a debate that will be televised in Orange County.

"Our campaign worked successfully with the Florida Democratic Party on a number of agreed upon debates and forums. After weeks of negotiations, all campaigns agreed to five debates, including a statewide televised debate that will air in Orange County," Ulvert said in a statement. "The Mayor is excited and proud to continue to share his vision for Florida and his progressive record of accomplishments directly with voters in the upcoming three debates and town halls."

The Democrats have held three gubernatorial debates. You can read our coverage of them here, here and here. Most polls currently have Graham and Levine running ahead of Gillum, King and Greene.

The remaining two debates will be held July 18 in Fort Meyers; and August 2 in Miami.