The debate was delayed by Hurricane Ian, and the candidates took on topics including education, critical race theory, COVID and a woman’s right to choose.
But the most heated exchange took place when it came to the economy.
“When Charlie Crist was governor, he ran saying he would not raise taxes and he signed off on the largest increase in taxes and fees in the history of Florida,” DeSantis said.
“What we need to do on the economy is focus on Florida. He keeps talking about the Biden administration this and that, this is the DeSantis administration and under the DeSantis administration the middle class is getting crunched in Florida,” Crist responded.
Crist also pressed DeSantis on whether or not he intended to serve his full term as governor. DeSantis declined to confirm or deny plans to run for president in 2024, though he is rumored to be on the short list of potential candidates.
One issue both candidates did agree on was that Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz should have received the death penalty.
Florida’s governor race is the second most expensive in the country. It’s not the only critical race in the state — the race between Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Val Demings is one that could change the balance in the Senate.
Current polling data shows Rubio with a 5.7 point lead over Demings.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, DeSantis extended voting provisions for a number of counties affected by the storm, but has been criticized by Democrats for leaving out counties that swing to the left.
If Rubio and DeSantis pull off significant victories, it will cement Florida’s status as a Republican state.
Recent polls show Crist trailing DeSantis by 11 points, giving him a lot of ground to make up before Election Day.
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