(UPDATE) Charlie Crist has brushed back questions about why he won't engage in a debate with Nan Rich by saying that his number one focus is defeating Rick Scott this November. Running against an incumbent governor with a huge spending advantage, it's not difficult to discern Crist's strategy to marginalize his only serious Democratic Party challenger and concentrate exclusively on the governor.
Though a certain number of Democrats still hope that Rich will get that one-on-one shot to debate Crist, the Florida Press Association and the Florida Society of News Editors aren't apparently hung up on that, as they have announced that they have invited Crist to appear at their gubernatorial forum on Thursday, July 10 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
Not surprisingly, Scott has declined the chance to speak at or near the same time as Crist.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Melissa Sanders, Governor Scott's re-election campaign manager, has issued a statement saying, "The governor will debate the Democratic nominee in the fall. Charlie Crist should stop playing games and stop hiding from Nan Rich. What is he scared of?"