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DeSantis-Crist debate rescheduled for later this month after Hurricane Ian postponement

<i>Getty Images</i><br/>Former Gov. Charlie Crist
Getty Images
Former Gov. Charlie Crist

By Steve Contorno, CNN

The Florida gubernatorial debate, postponed due to Hurricane Ian, has been rescheduled for October 24, the host station announced Monday.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Democratic rival, former US Rep. Charlie Crist, were originally scheduled to debate in Fort Pierce on Wednesday. However, the event hosted by WPEC CBS 12 was delayed as DeSantis and the state have focused on the aftermath of Ian.

Crist confirmed his participation in the rescheduled debate in a statement Monday.

“This debate is important,” said Crist, a former Florida governor. “Florida voters deserve a chance to hear from both candidates in the race to determine who will lead our state for the next four years. Voters also deserve to hear Gov. DeSantis defend his extremist anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-freedom agenda.”

Asked about DeSantis’ participation, a campaign spokesman sent CNN a link to a WPEC web story announcing the new date.

There has been limited interaction between the two candidates in the weeks since Crist secured his party’s nomination for governor over state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in a late August primary.

DeSantis has not agreed to any debate other than the one hosted by WPEC, a station based near West Palm Beach and owned by the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group. Crist had signed up for two more debates and has criticized DeSantis in the past for avoiding more one-on-one forums.

Since the primary, Crist has barnstormed the state in an effort to take down the incumbent, focusing on DeSantis’ actions to limit abortion access and the rising cost of living in Florida. His efforts, though, have been limited by Ian and tepid fundraising.

DeSantis has mostly eschewed a traditional reelection schedule. He has more often hit the campaign trail for Republican candidates in battlegrounds outside of Florida than for himself within the state, while using his mammoth fundraising advantage to flood the state’s airwaves with ads recounting his first term as governor. He also makes regular appearances in his official capacity in all corners of the Sunshine State, often delivering checks for local projects or previewing his second-term agenda.

A Siena College poll of likely voters last month showed DeSantis with an 8-point lead over Crist. Through the end of September, DeSantis had $106 million on hand to Crist’s $5 million.

The October 24 debate will be livestreamed and televised in markets across Florida.

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