Four candidates will participate in a Democratic gubernatorial debate on Saturday, June 9, at Pinellas Park High School from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Moderators are from Spectrum News 13 and the Tampa Bay Times
- The debate will be broadcast live on Spectrum Bay News 9 and Spectrum News 13 and streamed live on the website
The candidates -- Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Chris King -- will debate topics such as gun control, school funding, affordable housing and other topics.
An invitation was extended to Jeff Greene, who filed to run for governor on Monday. Greene declined our invitation.
Moderators will be Spectrum News 13 Anchor Tammie Fields and Spectrum Bay News 9 Anchor Holly Gregory as well as Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. Some of the questions will be asked by students from Florida schools.
The debate will be broadcast live on Spectrum Bay News 9 and Spectrum News 13. You can also watch it live as we stream on:
In preparation for the debate, here's some information on each of the candidates:
Andrew Gillum is a politician in the Democratic party, currently serving as the mayor of Tallahassee since 2014. He attended Florida A&M University and later became the youngest person in history to be elected to the Tallahassee City Commission.
"I can't wait to be able to move forward a vision in this state that puts people to work at every rung on the income ladder," Gillum said.
To stand out in the Democratic primary, Gillum is pledging to expand Medicaid, pay teachers at least $50,000 a year and raise taxes on the wealthiest corporations. On gun control, he has been accused to voting in favor of pro-gun measures while in Congress. Gillum voted to buck a state law barring cities from passing tough gun control ordinances. He also supports legalizing recreational marijuana.
Chris King is an entrepreneur and native of Orlando. He attended Harvard University, earning a degree in religion, politics and American public policy. King also earned a law degree from the Univeristy of Florida.
In 2006, He co-founded the "Elevation Financial Group" in Winter Park, Fla. His career has focused on real estate finance.
"I want to be the nation's most innovative governor when it comes to housing," he said, adding that he would stop lawmakers from raiding the state's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
King also wants universal background checks on gun purchases, an assault weapons ban as well as a ban on high-capacity magazines. He is opposed to the death penalty, and his progressive platform also includes legalizing marijuana for recreational use and free community college and trade school opportunities.
Gwen Graham is a former congresswoman from North Florida who is making it her mission to reach across the aisle.
"We have entered into a time when the two sides are very divided," she said, adding that she believes Floridians are ready for a return to consensus-building.
She's pitching herself as the "everywoman," a family pedigree of sorts. Her father, former senator and Florida Gov. Bob Graham, took part in "workdays" to get to know the kind of jobs floridians done, a tradition his daughter has continued.
Graham got her law degree from American University and worked at a law firm before she took time out to raise her children, serving as a PTA president. She moved on to become an administrator in the Leon County School District before running for Congress in 2014 in north Florida.
Although Graham is running on a platform of fighting climate change, protecting abortion rights and banning assault weapons, her opponents are branding her as too middle-of-the-road. Education reform is also a major part of her platform -- including raising teacher salaries, making sure funding (including Lottery money) is handled right, reining in charter schools and school vouchers and refocusing testing.
Graham attended the Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a former congresswoman, she served on the House Agriculture Committee and was also the only Democrat to serve on the House Armed Services Committee.
Levine says he has progressive ideas for Florida, such as addressing affordable housing, a higher minimum wage, health care expansion and increased funding for education. On Spectrum News 13's Political Connections show, he pledged to do it all without raising taxes.
“Number one, we’re gonna grow the economy," he said. "We’re going to make sure everyone is paying their fair share, such as corporations. We don’t want to raise the tax, we want to make sure there are no more corporate loopholes.”
He says one way to grow the state's economy is by capitalizing more on the Space Coast to deliver high-paying jobs, but Florida first needs to invest in an education workforce.
Levine attended the University of Michigan and earned a degree in political science. He is currently the CEO of "Royal Media Partners."
Levine also served as Mayor of Miami Beach from 2013-2017, when he started an aggressive plan to fight flooding that has won national praise but also criticism at home.
The debate will be brought to you by three Bay area grassroots organizations, Indivisible FL-13, Women's March Florida, and Fired Up Pinellas.
The School Board of Pinellas County, Florida, is neither sponsoring nor affiliated with this event.