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Connie Mack, Bill Nelson Agree to One TV Debate

September 12, 2012 - 6:00pm

Floridians will have at least one chance to watch U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, and Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, on stage together.

A televised debate will be held Oct. 17 from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, set up by Decision 2012: Before You Vote, a partnership between Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association.

"'Decision 2012: Before You Vote' provides millions of Floridians with an important opportunity to get to know the candidates and their views on the critical issues that most affect the future of our state and country, Susan Towler, chairman of Leadership Florida and executive director of Community Affairs for Florida Blue, stated in a release.

An agreement on a debate comes after efforts to bring the camps together involving the Tampa Bay Times were rebuffed by Mack, who has been at odds with the coverage from the newspapers political editor.

Where the candidates stand when the debate arrives will have to wait.

A SurveyUSA poll released Tuesday showed that Nelson has erased a July advantage that Mack had held, spinning the contest to an 11 percentage point lead.

Likely voters polled a week earlier by Public Policy Media put Nelson up by 7 percentage points.

The 7 p.m. contest will be aired on 11 stations across Florida.

Michael Williams, anchor for WPTV NewsChannel 5 in West Palm Beach will moderate the event, with questioning coming from: Anthony Man, political writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Lissette Campos, director of community affairs for ABC Action News/WFTS in Tampa; and Toluse Olorunnipa, state/politics reporter with the Miami Herald.

Matt Walsh, editor and CEO of The Observer Group and chairman of the Florida Press Association, called the contest one of the key national races of 2012.

This debate and news coverage of it will provide voters with the best insight into this campaign about which candidate is better prepared to serve Florida in the U.S. Senate, Walsh stated in a release. Truly, Before You Vote may be the most important political must see TV outside of the contest for president in the biggest Florida race in this election year.

Stations covering the debate:

Fort Myers WBBH-TV 2 (NBC) / WZVN-HD 7 (ABC)

Gainesville WCJB-TV 20 (ABC) / CW10

Jacksonville FCN WTLV 12 (NBC) / WJXX 25 (ABC)

Miami WTVJ 6 (NBC)

Orlando WKMG 6 (CBS)

Panama City WJHG 7 (NBC)

Pensacola WEAR-TV 3 (ABC)

Sarasota WWSB 7 (ABC)

Tallahassee WCTV 6 (CBS)

Tampa WFTS 28 (ABC)

West Palm Beach WPTV 5 (NBC).

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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