Tampa Bay Times to host U.S Senate Republican debate on July 26

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The Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and FPBS and its member stations are partnering to produce a U.S Senate Republican debate for Florida voters before the Aug. 14 primary. 

The debate, scheduled for July 26, will be broadcast live to a statewide audience from the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Bay News 9 and on the Florida public TV and radio stations.

Candidates who have at least 5 percent support in a statewide poll of Florida voters will be invited to participate in the hourlong primetime debate, which will be moderated by Times political editor Adam Smith and Bay News 9 senior anchor Al Ruechel. 

Candidates in the Republican primary race include U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, Col. Mike McCalister and former congressman Dave Weldon. The winner of the August primary will face U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in the general election this fall.

The Times  has for years presented debates that have aired statewide and nationally, including a Republican presidential primary debate in January moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams.

“For as long as I can remember, the Tampa Bay Times has been sponsoring debates in campaigns for every office from City Hall to Capitol Hill, and I am delighted we are extending our series this year in the U.S. Senate race,” said Paul Tash, Times chairman and CEO. “Debates give voters a good chance to look over the candidates for themselves.” 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.