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Gubernatorial, U.S. Senate television debates set for October

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Two statewide, live television debates between candidates running for governor and the U.S. Senate will be held at Broward College in late October, Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association announced Tuesday.

The hour-long debates will be held from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24, about two weeks before the Nov. 6 general election.

Beth Kigel, chair of Leadership Florida, said the debate sponsors anticipate the Republican and Democratic nominees for each office will participate, although the order of the nights has not yet been decided.

“Florida’s elections are among the most crucial in the nation and our debates will surely be one of the best ways for voters to see the candidates present themselves and challenge their opponents,” Kigel said.

Dean Ridings, president of the Florida Press Association, said he anticipates a “full and open discussion of the issues."

Ridings said "it’s vitally important that Florida voters understand their choices when deciding who will serve in the U.S. Senate and Governor’s Office in the coming years.”

The debates will be produced by the West Palm Beach-based ABC station WPBF and will be carried in the state’s 10 major media markets.

The stations participating in the broadcast include Miami-For Lauderdale (WFOR-CBS); West Palm Beach (WPBF-ABC); Orlando (WESH-NBC); Jacksonville (either WTLV-NBC or WJXX-ABC); Gainesville (WCJB-ABC); Tampa-St. Petersburg (WFLA-NBC); Tallahassee (WCTV-CBS); Pensacola (WEAR-ABC); Panama City (WMBB-ABC); and Fort Myers (either WBBH-NBC or WZVN-ABC).

In addition to Broward College, other sponsors of the debates include the Florida League of Cities, AARP, the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.