Poll: Progressives overwhelmingly want Charlie Crist to debate Nan Rich

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A vast number of Florida progressive voters want a debate between Charlie Crist and his Democratic primary opponent, former state Senate leader Nan Rich to see how they stand on the issues before the August primaries.

A Public Policy Polling survey, commissioned by Progressive Choice, found that 89% of Florida Democratic primary voters say it is important to cast informed ballots based on where the former governor and Rich stand during a debate. Of that total, 76% said it was “very important” to them.

“Progressives in Florida want information about this year’s election and it’s clear they want the issues debated,” said Jamie Fontaine-Gansell, chair of Progressive Choice. “The ability to raise big-time special-interest money is not the real sign of what makes a leader. We all know you can’t buy the Progressive vote.

“Progressive Choice calls on Charlie Crist to listen to the voters of Florida and debate the issues important to them.”

The debate question has been a consistent problem for Rich, a former state Senate Democratic leader. She does not have nearly the name recognition as Crist, a popular former Republican governor and independent 2010 U.S. Senate candidate, now running for his old job as a Democrat.

Rich recently announced she accepted an invitation to appear at a July candidate forum co-hosted by the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Press Association.

However, in announcing the forum at the Thursday, July 10 FPA/FSNE Annual Convention, time was allotted only for Crist and incumbent Gov. Rick Scott. No other candidates, including  Rich, were mentioned. Scott has not yet accepted the invitation.

Crist, leading in both fundraising and the polls, has repeatedly told reporters he will not debate Rich.

“I’m focused on Rick Scott,” Crist said at the opening of a campaign field office in South Florida.

Fontaine-Gansell added that progressive values are under attack in Florida, where women’s rights are being restricted and strong female voices are being silenced.

The PPP poll spoke with 852 Florida Democratic primary voters on May 14-15, with a margin of error of 3.4%.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.