Though Nan Rich waited until Thursday to launch her own petition drive for a debate with Charlie Crist, an organization calling itself Progressive Choice Florida had a petition up and running on the national website, Change.org, for at least the last week.
In the brief time it's been up, the petition that also calls for a Nan Rich-Charlie Crist debate has amassed some 12,688 signatures.
Said Florida political consultant and strategist Roger Stone, "It's clear that there is a grass roots desire for a debate in the Democratic Party, as the number of signatures is significant."
"Florida Voters deserve a discussion," says the headline on the website. "Call for a gubernatorial debate, now."
The copy on the site generally follows Rich's same argument for a debate:
"We have two very different candidates in our primary election. Nan Rich has a long track record as a real progressive, pro-choice Democrat. But so many questions remain about Charlie Crists record and his ability to now govern as a progressive. Just three years ago, he called himself an anti-tax, pro-life, pro-gun Republican.
It ends with "Sign our petition to call on the Florida Democratic Party to support a Democratic gubernatorial debate."
But Crist shows no signs of submitting to a pre-primary television debate.
On Tuesday in Tampa, Creative Loafing's Mitch Perry confronted Crist. This is what he wrote in his blog:
"I did ask if he would reconsider his stance against debating (Nan) Rich before they face each other in the Democratic gubernatorial primary this August.
"I don't think so,"' he said, explaining that his aim is to focus exclusively on Rick Scott."
Perry concluded his remarks by writing, "Yet there are more than a few Democrats who would like to see the former Republican challenged in a debate setting. Others in the party (including all of Crist's supporters) have no desire to open his public record to such scrutiny in a televised forum."
The question becomes, how long will Charlie Crist rob Florida Democrats of their right to make an informed decision?
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.