Mitch Perry Report 3.26.14: Charlie Crist again says he won't debate Nan Rich

Last week in the state Senate, the plan for a major expansion of school vouchers in Florida was killed (at least for the time being), thwarting a House bill that  would have made the private school scholarship program eligible for sales tax money for the first time since it began in 2001. If approved, the measure could have doubled the number of students in such scholarships over the course of the next four years.

It was a big blow for voucher supporters, but many Democrats rejoiced, including gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich, who has consistently been against such expansion. 

Rich has been attempting to make an issue out of an ambiguous comment made by Charlie Crist on a South Florida political television show over the weekend, saying he "didn't know" if the program should be expanded "at this time."

“If it is wrong to expand this program now, it was wrong to expand it when Crist did so in 2010," Rich wrote to supporters earlier this week. "Florida’s Democrats deserve a nominee for governor who is genuinely committed to quality public education.”
I neglected to ask Crist about Rich's comments when he appeared in Tampa yesterday, but I did ask if he would reconsider his stance against debating Rich before they face each other in the Democratic gubernatorial primary this August.

"I don't think so," he said, explaining that his aim is to focus exclusively on Rick Scott.

Yet there are more than a few Democrats who would like to see the former Republican challenged in a debate setting. Others in the party (including all of Crist's supporters) have no desire to open his public record to such scrutiny in a televised forum. 

In other news... Bob Buckhorn gave his third State of the City Address yesterday in Tampa Heights inside the cavernous Tampa Armature Works Building, where the mayor waxed enthusiastic about his city and the strides it has made.

And Judithanne McLauchlan has produced the first web ad for her state Senate campaign against Jeff Brandes.

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