'Bad for democracy': Florida newspaper blasts Ron DeSantis for 'avoiding' debate with Democratic challenger

'Bad for democracy': Florida newspaper blasts Ron DeSantis for 'avoiding' debate with Democratic challenger
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Ex-Republican turned Democrat Charlie Crist, Florida’s Democratic 2022 gubernatorial nominee and a former Florida governor, is anxious to debate incumbent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — and he is hoping for a debate that will be broadcast statewide. But the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s editorial board, in a biting editorial published on September 7, lambasts DeSantis for shying away from Crist’s debate challenge.

“The tough guy in the flight helmet is afraid of Charlie Crist,” the Sun Sentinel’s editorial board argues. “‘Never, ever back down from a fight,’ Gov. Ron DeSantis insists in a campaign ad. Then, he runs away from an invitation to debate Crist on statewide television. Considering DeSantis’ obvious vulnerabilities in a format he can’t control — especially on the subjects of abortion and guns — his debate avoidance strategy may be politically savvy. But it cheats Florida voters. It shows how he loathes transparency. It’s bad for democracy.”

Although the far-right DeSantis has been a very polarizing figure in Florida politics, he is a rock star in the MAGA movement. Recent polls have been showing DeSantis with single-digit leads over Crist, and one of more encouraging polls was released on Wednesday, September 7. That one showed Crist trailing DeSantis by only 3 percent, which the Sun-Sentinel describes as a “statistical tie.” And an election that close, the editorial board stresses, merits a statewide debate .

READ MORE: Why Ron DeSantis is stumping for election deniers in key swing states: report

“Debates are not perfect,” the Sun Sentinel’s editorial board explains. “The format is often too rigid, and candidates can’t be forced to give straight answers. Their greater value is in raising money after the event itself, especially if one candidate draws blood or commits a serious gaffe. Still, these unscripted long-form appearances with real journalists are needed more than ever in an era of disinformation, misinformation and an endless stream of 30-second ads filled with inaccuracies and distortions. Voters deserve to see DeSantis defending his record, including his signing of an abortion law with no exceptions for rape or incest.”

READ MORE: How Ron DeSantis' 'unprecedented' crackdown on Florida’s school districts is helping the far-right

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