Florida governor’s debate almost derailed — by a fan

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It was probably the most attention-grabbing start of a debate in modern political history.

Charlie Crist and Rick Scott faced off Wednesday in the second of three debates, which could mean the difference in a razor-thin Florida gubernatorial contest.

The hour-long debate, sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association, was all ready to go at Broward College in Davie.

But from the beginning, the debate was nearly derailed – by an electric fan.

After Crist entered the stage promptly at the 7 p.m. start time, moderator Eliott Rodriguez of CBS4 made a strange announcement.

Gov. Rick Scott would not be participating.

Crist had requested an electric fan placed under the podium – this being South Florida. Apparently, that was technically against debate rules against having “electronics” on stage.

Scott then refused to participate based on Crist’s violation of the rules.

After a round of cheers — this time from “fans” in the audience — Crist quipped about Scott’s “pleading the fifth one more time.” It was a reference to the governor’s well-publicized legal deposition where Scott had pled Fifth Amendment protection a total of 75 times.

Once the crowd somewhat calmed down, Scott decided to continue, and after a nearly ten-minute delay, the governor appeared on stage and the debate continued as normal. or as normal as a Florida debate can be.

Proving how much of a real-time social event this event has become, the Twitter account @CCristFan (active since 2009) updated its location to say “behind Tanman’s podium, USA.”

It ended the debate with nearly 753 follows, the number is now over 900.

And YouTube already has the video “Rick Scott is not a fan …”

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.