Ron DeSantis, Charlie Crist to meet on debate stage as Florida gubernatorial race enters final two weeks


Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his opponent, former Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, will meet in a primetime debate Monday night with just two weeks remaining in the state’s heated gubernatorial race.

The debate, hosted by local CBS affiliate WPEC, was initially scheduled for Oct. 12, but was postponed due to Hurricane Ian hitting Florida’s western coast. It will be the one and only head-to-head matchup between the two candidates prior to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

DeSantis, who is seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, is seeking a second term, while Crist would like to retake his old job, having served as a Republican governor of Florida beginning in 2007.

Crist opted not to run for re-election in 2010, and instead ran as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate, eventually losing to now-Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. 

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Crist joined the Democratic Party in 2012, and was elected to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. He resigned his House seat in August after winning the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

DeSantis represented Florida’s 6th Congressional District in the House from 2013 to 2018, before being elected governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election. He has maintained a high level of popularity, likely contributing to his double-digit lead over Crist in recent polls. 

The race has become increasingly heated, and has included Crist, on multiple occasions, comparing DeSantis to Satan and himself to Jesus Christ, sparking criticism. 

Crist has also called for a criminal probe into DeSantis over his decision to fly illegal immigrants from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, a liberal enclave. 

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The debate will air at 7 p.m. ET on local Florida channels and be streamed online.

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Fox News’ Power Rankings has rated the race as “likely Republican.”

Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Charlie Crist will face off in their one and only debate with just two weeks left in the Florida gubernatorial race before the general election.

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