Decision 2022

The Everglades Foundation Joins “Before You Vote”  TV Debates Project in Races for Governor, U.S. Senator

October 18th (Senatorial), October 20th (Gubernatorial) Dates Set

One week before Florida’s primary election, the coalition of groups producing statewide televised debates in the general election races for Governor and U.S. Senator today announced major new progress points in the project, including the addition of The Everglades Foundation to the impressive lineup of partners and sponsors.

The longest-running televised debate series in Florida’s modern history expects national interest in the debates to be held at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus in mid-October. The Everglades Foundation — which has a proud history of working tirelessly to restore and protect America’s Everglades through science, advocacy, and education — joins the “Decision 2022: Before You Vote” series with its other anchoring partners and sponsors: The James Madison Institute, AARP Florida, Florida Trend, the LeRoy Collins Institute, the Florida Press Association, and the Florida League of Cities. One more sponsor is still expected to join the project.

The coalition announced locked-in dates for the statewide televised debates: Tuesday, October 18th, for the U.S. Senate race, in which incumbent U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has already expressed an “intent to participate” to debate organizers, as he did in the 2016 “Before You Vote” televised debate with former Congressman Patrick Murphy.  Thursday, October 20th is the date for the Gubernatorial debate. (Governor DeSantis also participated in the 2018 “Before You Vote” general election gubernatorial debate with former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.)

“The Everglades Foundation is proud to join the 2022 ‘Before You Vote’ debates as an underwriting sponsor,” said Eric Eikenberg, the organization’s CEO. “These debates provide a vital service to Florida voters to help them learn the candidates’ views and vision for our state’s future as defined by the challenges that confront us and the opportunities to pursue.”

On behalf of the coalition of non-partisan project partners, David Denor, Publisher of Florida Trend, welcomed The Everglades Foundation to the debate series.

“All of us owe a continuing debt of gratitude to The Everglades Foundation for its essential work at the state and national level to protect and preserve one of America’s greatest natural treasures right here in Florida,” said Denor. “Our environmental and economic future are deeply intertwined with the health of the Everglades.”

Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rubio, both national political figures, are already the Republican nominees for reelection as no one qualified to challenge either in next week’s primary election.  The Democrat nominees for Governor and U.S. Senator will be determined in the August 23 primary election.

A consortium of network affiliate television stations – one in each of Florida’s 10 markets – are committed as broadcast partners. WPBF-Ch. 25/ABC, the Hearst station in West Palm Beach, will again be the lead producing station, as it was in 2016 and 2018. The debates will be broadcast live, from 7-8 pm, EDT, except in Pensacola and Panama City, where they will be broadcast one hour later because of time zone differences.

“For many years, this partnership has helped convene the most meaningful, high-quality broadcast debates in Florida’s major elections for Governor and U.S. Senator,” said Caroline Taplett, President/General Manager of WPBF, producing station for the series. “Florida voters will truly benefit from these debates and the substantive dialogues between candidates for these important leadership positions.”

Alongi Media will serve as Executive Producer of both debates. The global media company was founded by former longtime NBC News Executive Producer Phil Alongi Sr. and is jointly operated by Phil Alongi II, Executive Producer and alumnus of PBS and NBC News. The highly decorated father and son duo run a team of producers who have won more than 100 Emmy Awards for debates and broadcast specials. Alongi Media produced the successful and highly acclaimed 2016 and 2018 “Before You Vote” debates featuring Sen. Rubio (2016) and then-Congressman DeSantis (2018). As in those prior debates, WPBF anchorman Todd McDermott will moderate the programs with a select panel of journalists, to be announced soon.

Beyond the official nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties for U.S. Senator and Governor, debate invitations would only be extended to any other candidate(s) who meet the official criteria established by the debate organizers. The criteria are based on a statewide survey of likely voters to be conducted by Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy in September – in which a candidate would have to enjoy support of 12.5% of likely voters, factoring in the margin of error used in the poll. The criteria adequately include any viable candidates, while facilitating a debate that gives those qualified adequate time to represent their positions to the public.

Here’s the lineup of broadcast partners in Florida’s 10 distinct markets:

West Palm Beach           WPBF (ABC)                                    Gainesville      WCJB (ABC)

Miami/Ft. Lauderdale    WTVJ (NBC)                                     Tallahassee    WCTV (CBS)

Orlando                           WESH (NBC)                                    Pensacola       WEAR (ABC)

Jacksonville                     WJXX  (ABC)                                     Panama City  WMBB (ABC)

Tampa/St. Petersburg   WFLA (NBC)                                    Fort Myers     WBBH (NBC)

As in past election cycles, the debates will be simulcast on statewide public radio, on participating TV stations’ websites and/or Facebook pages, and on daily newspaper websites and/or Facebook pages, with a national rebroadcast expected on C-SPAN after each of the live debate programs has aired.

More details about the “Decision 2022: Before You Vote” debate project will be shared soon.


About Florida Trend With its history and unique perspective, Florida Trend has made itself indispensable to Florida’s business community and the state’s political leaders. The magazine and its website offer regionally based stories and reporting with statewide impact. Florida Trend’s thorough journalism is recognized each year with regional and national awards for editorial excellence.

About The James Madison Institute Through outreach and education, The James Madison Institute advances public policy solutions that provide all Floridians greater access to economic freedom, prosperity, and opportunity to pursue the lives they desire.

About the LeRoy Collins Institute The mission of the LeRoy Collins Institute, located at Florida State University, is to perpetuate the leadership of Governor LeRoy Collins by developing and promoting bold and visionary public policy that will empower and uplift Floridians for generations to come.

About AARP Florida AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, including 2.8 million in Florida, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability, and personal fulfillment.

About The Florida Press Association The Florida Press Association is a nonprofit organization with a purpose to protect the freedom and advance the professional standards of the press in Florida, with a membership of Florida’s daily and weekly newspapers and online local media. Visit www.flpress.com to learn more.

About the Florida League of Cities For more than 100 years, the Florida League of Cities has been the united voice for Florida’s cities, towns, and villages. An influential advocate for local self-government, the League supports local voices making local choices to protect and enhance the character of Florida’s communities. Visit flcities.com to learn more.

About The Everglades Foundation The Everglades Foundation was established in 1993 with the sole mission to restore and protect America’s Everglades through science, advocacy, and education. At the heart of Everglades restoration is the water that supports Florida’s economy, environment, and communities. The Everglades provides the drinking water for millions of Floridians and countless visitors. It is vital to Florida’s tourism, real estate, and recreation industries which all depend on clean freshwater.

About Palm Beach State College Founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State has grown from three classrooms and 41 local students to five campuses and more than 40,000 students from more than 157 countries. One of the top producers of associate degree graduates in the U.S., PBSC also offers baccalaureate degrees, professional certificates, career training, and corporate and continuing education.

About WPBF WPBF, virtual channel 25 (UHF digital channel 16), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Tequesta, Florida, United States, serving the Gold and Treasure Coasts of South Florida. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of New York City–based Hearst Communications.