Gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich would be happy to debate fellow Democrat Charlie Crist.
That is if Crist wants to.
Rich accepted an invitation to appear at a July 10 candidate forum co-hosted by the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Press Association. And the former Senate leader — and lifelong Democrat — has called on ex-Gov. Crist, a former Republican, to join her.
“Florida voters deserve to hear directly from the candidates, at the same time on the same stage,” Rich said in a statement issued Tuesday. “I’m happy to present my record, my core principles, and my vision for the future. I hope Charlie Crist is as well.”
The Florida Society of News Editors has not yet announced the format for the July event, but suggested both candidates appear together on stage to answer questions from a panel of journalists.
Rich, in agreeing to participate, also agreed to the format.
“Open debate is vital to Democracy, and Democratic voters are entitled to hear a vigorous exchange of ideas in the primary,” Rich said. “These two credible and independent organizations are providing a venue for that exchange and I am very much looking forward to participating.”
Crist, who leads in both fundraising and at the polls, has repeatedly said he will not debate Rich.
“I’m focused on Rick Scott.” Crist told reporters at the opening of a campaign field office in Plantation.
“I mean it’s so important that we defeat this guy and that somebody get in the office that cares about people as Omar [Kahn, Crist’s campaign manager] was saying earlier. Listen, if I spent any energy doing anything but that shame on me.”
Rich also reiterated her request to join Crist in a series of primary debates statewide.