Gov. DeSantis and former Rep. Crist have first and only debate


Tribune News Service

Gov. Ron DeSantis faces Charlie Crist in a Florida gubernatorial debate at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce on Monday. Photo courtesy of Carline Jean/TNS.

Kevin Hamm, Writer

Republican incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis and Democratic challenger former Rep. Charlie Crist faced off in their first and only debate of the Florida Gubernatorial election in Fort Pierce, Florida at the Sunrise Theatre on Monday, Oct. 24.

Crist began his career as a Republican in the 90s while serving in the Florida State Senate. He later served as the attorney general of Florida from 2003 to 2007, and then as governor from 2007 to 2011. He changed his party affiliation to independent in 2010 and then to Democrat in 2012.

The two debated immigration, abortion, public health, transgender issues, public safety, the economy and education.

Crist called DeSantis’ decision to send migrants to Martha’s Vineyard a stunt, while DeSantis defended his action by claiming that Democrat immigration policies have led to an increase of crime and the flow of dangerous narcotics into Florida.

Crist also expressed his support for a woman’s right to chose when it comes to abortion but denied that he supports abortion up until the moment of birth.

On the issue of COVID-19 and public health, DeSantis argued how his opposition to vaccine mandates and lockdowns allowed Floridans to be free, while focusing on protecting the most vulnerable such as the elderly. Crist fired back, arguing that a death toll of more than 80,000 shows the governor’s negligence and failure to listen to science.

Concerning gender transition surgery and hormone treatment for minors, DeSantis called the procedures inappropriate and said that most gender dysphoria resolves itself by the time the child grows up; additionally, the governor argued that children are not mature enough to make such decisions even with a physician.

While debating public safety, Crist blamed DeSantis for current spikes in crime due to gun violence and a lack of proper gun-control laws.

The governor argued that so-called Crist-Biden spending policies have contributed to inflation and that Crist would raise taxes if elected, but was blamed for the high cost of living resulting from insurance costs and property taxes.

DeSantis was accused of wanting to erase history involving Native Americans, slavery and LGBTQ+ issues. He was criticized for violating free-speech by removing certain school board officials from office as well.

DeSantis was also questioned on whether or not he would complete another four year term if re-elected instead of running for president in 2024.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, many of whom will be voting for the first time, also watched the debate to see which candidate could best serve them.

“Neither candidate has a strong showing, both of them dodged questions and came off as awkward but DeSantis appeared like the winner. I think Florida’s rightwards shift will give him a victory, not even based on his own merit, just him being a Republican,” senior Ben Laski said. “I feel like both avoided uncomfortable questions about transgender people and gender transitioning surgery for minors, but I appreciate how they mentioned the economy because insurance costs are something thats affecting my family.”

Although DeSantis currently leads Crist in the polls, voters will decide Nov. 8 whom they want to lead the state.