The Pulp: Why Charlie Crist Won’t Debate Nan Rich; Spoiler Alert: He’s Not Chicken

Earlier this week, the Florida media and Florida Democrats were circulating a Palm Beach Post video of Charlie Crist engaging with Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera  at the Forum Club in West Palm Beach, in which Charlie Crist interrupts the LG’s interview, and takes a question from the press pool, to which he responded with the tagline “I don’t get to debate the Lieutenant Governor Candidate… Give Me Scott.”  It’s an ironic position and punchline because Charlie Crist and his team are repeatedly ducking debate challenges from State Senator Nan Rich. In addition to debate dodging, the Crist Press Shop continue to site how early we are in the electoral calendar to be having discussions on policy, ideas, and solutions that separate the Democratic Party from the Republicans. They’ll continue to tell us that their main focus is raising money, attacking Rick Scott’s record and labeling him out of touch without establishing their own policies that our base can rally around. As we’ve previously discussed at The Florida Squeeze, this method has proven to be a losing one not only in Florida politics, but also national elections- just ask Governor/Congresswoman Alex Sink and President Mitt Romney. 

Today, Congressman Ted Deutch while not taking sides in the Governor’s race (at this point) was quoted by the Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett as saying:”

“I think it would worthwhile for the people of Florida to be reminded of the issues that most people in the state care about, which would be the issues that are debated that night, instead of being forced to watch millions of dollars in commercials funded by outside groups that support the governor.”


While I certainly agree with Congressman Deutch’s analysis that a primary debate between Charlie Crist and Nan Rich would be worthwhile, and certainly such a fruitful debate would give the democratic nominee an advantage going into the general election, as much of the dirty laundry about the nominee would have already been exposed in a series of rigorous debates, there is a bit of smart campaign strategy in Crist’s approach to a primary debate. In fact, I would argue it would be entirely against Charlie’s best interest to debate Nan as this point (or any point) in the race for that matter. Why? It’s not that he’s afraid of Nan, quite the contrary. It’s simple. Charlie Crist has nothing to gain, and everything to lose in a debate with Nan Rich.  As my colleague Dave Trotter explained in an earlier post, Nan Rich’s campaign has some fundamental issues:

Unfortunately for the Rich campaign, very few voters know who she is. Without going into every demographic, let’s just look at those that Rich should be doing well with. 68% of Obama supporters have no opinion of Rich. 69% of very liberal voters and 79% of somewhat liberal voters have no idea who Rich is. 72% of women don’t know who Rich is. 67% of Democrats don’t know who Rich is. Basically nobody knows who Nan Rich is. This can easily be looked at as a failure of the campaign to make Senator Rich nothing more than the alternative to Charlie Crist. This tactic never works and does not seem to be working in this case. If none of the voters know who Nan Rich is, she will have a hard time winning the primary. Basically, she needs to define herself more than just being the other option to Crist.



Thus, in a hypothetical debate between Nan Rich and Charlie Crist, Governor Crist would most likely be on the defensive throughout the entire event.  He would have to explain his inconsistent voting record, which is dwarfed by Senator Rich’s consistent progressive record. A debate between the two,  would show that Charlie views Nan Rich as a viable opponent in the primary, which given his recent behavior- calling out Rick Scott through his LTG, and telling reporters that he’s not even considering a debate with Senator Rich, shows the contrary.  On a personal note, I would love to see Charlie Crist answer some serious questions about his record guns, school vouchers, immigration and school tuition, and the disastrous Jeb Bush education plan, which he has endorsed wholeheartedly.

Debates are about the ideas and policies that separate candidates and inspire our base, you know, voting decisions should be based on- not whether or not a candidate can appeal to mythical moderate & independents in a hyper-partisan midterm cycle. While I echo the calls for  debates between the two candidates, and very much hope it happens sooner rather than later, I honestly don’t see Team Crist, headed by some very smart fellas in Omar Khan, Kevin Cate, and Ceasar Fernandez (both of whom I worked with on the Jeff Clemens campaign in 2012), letting little known Nan Rich take control of the conversation or air time via giving her viability credit through sharing a stage with the former Governor.  But, as many of us know, the worst kept secret in Florida politic is that Charlie Crist is not only the candidate in his campaigns, he’s also the  manager, and lead consultant. Consequently, there just might come a time where Charlie gets fed up with the challenges to his integrity and sincerity in his ideological shift, and takes it upon himself to accept the debate challenge.   Here’s to hoping that moment happens. I’ll bring the popcorn and we can all watch the chaos ensue.

Thanks For Reading,


  1. should be circulating…. circling is something that vultures and Indian warriors do


  2. Democrat · ·

    I think you answered your own question several times throughout your own article….Charlie Crist has NOTHING to gain by debating Nan Rich….and everything to loose.

    Don’t hold your breath!

    Ain’t going to happen.


    1. I wasn’t asking the question. I was answering it.


      1. Justin you are right. There is no way Charlie can debate Nan. If he does he loses. It is as simple as that. She would wipe the floor with him the same way Rubio did in their debate. Crist is a loser either way. The base, the true Democrats will never get the vote out for Charlie. Oh, some may hold their nose and vote for him.As you stated the lesser of 2 evils will never get the vote out. Hacks and pundits have been counting, and will continue to count her out.The same way David was overlooked by Goliath and his pundits. You can’t poll passion.


  3. Let me continue reviewing the long, long list of Republican scandals, faux pas and crimes, not to mention blatant conflicts of interest: Rick Scott’s “Lieut. Governor scandal” which he failed to deal with for what, a year? The Lieut. Governor in Florida is like an appendix–useless and irrelevant! Scott was merely earning “points” with minorities and the military in the first place by choosing her. And conflicts of interest such as the one she was exposed for are par for the course for Republicans in the FL Legislature–she just got caught! And in a transparent pitch to buy Hispanic/S. Florida votes, at the end of his term, Scott picks a–surprise!–Hispanic member of the Legislature to “figurehead” as the appendix, er Lieut. Governor just in time for campaign season. Ugh.


  4. Ray Hudkins · ·

    Poor Charlie, on the defensive with someone the voters don’t claim to know?? His voting record just might come up in a Rich debate. How unfortunate. I don’t suppose the guv would dare question Crist’s record. Ducking competition that might just give ALL voters that would care to listen to a debate an idea of which way Charlie is going to lean could be helpful if they haven’t already made up their mind. I think it should be a requirement that candidates face the voters in debates or town hall forums. If you are afraid of the competition, why run


  5. Why can’t it be said that the Democratic party has two viable candidates in the primary…’s tiring to hear that no one knows Rich…..lets give her some air time… if Crist is the candidate, it would seem that Rich can only make him a better candidate and perhaps Governor too…..


  6. Traditionally the guy in top in a primary, does not debate the women who has very little name recognition or chance of winning. why would he? He would be perceived as a bully. Let s no t forget Nan Rich has a record too, not all of it us good. All legislators have votes that they wish they could change. Things change, we learn more about an issue and it happens, Rick Scott financial supporters said they would fund Nan Rich, she said she would take money from where ever it came from as she cannot raise the money needed to run a statewide race. Then Lenny Curry of the RPOF is quoted as wanting Nan Rich to address the Republican dinner. Google the articles for your self. Why would Scoots people want to fund Rich? Because they know they can beat her easily. Not may know her at all and In a state of one of the largest gun owners and NRA memberships, she is dead in the water on that issue alone. So lets not ask why Crist should not debate her, she needs him, he does not need her and it would not be the politically smart thing to do.


  7. Why doesn’t TFS moderate a debate or a Google + Hangout as you people are launching that to have both Governor’s candidates on?


    1. Already working on that Jeff 😉


    2. This is an idea. Something we’ll follow up on.


  8. When Rich was the only announced candidate for Governor the Republicans played the game by calling out the fact that she was snubbed and not asked to speak at the Democratic Fundraising Dinner…she got a lot of press….big donors always hedge their bets….that’s how politics works….surely Crist is getting money from both sides…….she did vote yes on Stand Your Ground….and sadly when someone with the record of Rick Scott can get elected with the help of his own $70 Million……it’s so troubling the Democracy is no where to be found.


  9. Democrat · ·

    Look as a Yellow Dog Democrat it is disheartening to me that the Florida Democratic Party, Allison Tant, Christian Ulvert and their loosing Demicratic consultant cronies have driven us into practical irrelevance.

    That is partially why Nan Rich has no party to ride on and we have to rely on a converted Republican Governor to help drive us out of this loosing ditch.

    It’s a free country and no one held a gun to Nan’s head and made her run. Honestly she has had a whole year and raised no money and gone absolutely nowhere. And there is a reason for that. Because she, like Alex Sink, Bill MacBride and Jim Davis they were terrible candidates who could not match the machine, organization and especially the fundraising prowess of the Republicans.

    And I know it’s killing my fellow Democrats Charlie Crist is our best hope of fighting fire with fire on mist every front even by employing the Obama ground team.

    Nan falls very short on every front…especially in the “like able charisma” department….of which she…again…is sorely lacking in inspiration!

    So let the primary happen…and don’t hold your breath for any debates…until Charlie gets to Scott.

    Now that will be fun to watch!!


    1. If Charlie wins the primary without debating Nan, Scott will say you didn’t debate so why should I and Crist loses. If Charlie debates Nan he loses like he lost to Rubio. He loses either way. He is a disaster waiting to happen. Nan is the only chance to defeat Scott.


      1. Broward Bob · ·

        Poor Joe and his “Nan-crush”. You post this same ignorant dishonest garbage everywhere you stumble into. She has NO chance, as you will find out in August. Please get ready to deal with it, and don’t harm yourself when it happens.


      2. Hey Bob, I’m not poor. If you have a problem with either me or my beliefs then you need to identify yourself. Unlike Chicken Charlie, I don’t run from a debate.


  10. Mark Lynn · ·

    Crist should humor Rich (&Scott) and debate her. Doesn’t have to be a large venue or even on TV. Maybe the Summer YD Convention. I can recall Buddy MacKay & Tom Gustafson debating at the 1990 YD Convention. This will get the issue off the table and force Scott’s hand. I don’t think any type of debate would help Rich in any significant way. Even if it were on TV only us political junkies would tune in. For some reason many GOPers are terrified of debates. Ileana Ros-Lehinen used to run from them like a vampire at daylight.


  11. Ricky Rick · ·

    I think a debate would show Florida who the only real democrat in the race is. Charlie consistently voted against women, LGBT, education, immigrant reform, etc. I am not about to risk my vote (which means a hell of alot to me) on a “pro-gun republican”. -Charlie Crist’s words…
    Nan has a true, consistent record. Yea I agree I haven’t see alot of media exposure of Nan… but yard signs and media doesn’t sway voters like some people think. Nan has a grassroots campaign and that’s one of the mail reasons I’m voting for her… she cares about the people.


  12. Florida Democrat · ·

    NAN RICH is the ONLY True Blue DEMOCRAT “running” for FL Governor. Why would ANYONE want to have a GOP/IND/DEM when they can have the REAL DEAL – a TRUE lifelong DEMOCRAT with the core values that the Democratic Party has always stood for! She CARES about the people of Florida and would be sure the 99% aren’t shoved under the bus and run over as they have been by the GOP for many years in Florida!


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