Gov. Rick Scott will skip a joint appearance with Democratic opponent Charlie Crist at a statewide convention of news editors and publishers in July.
The Florida Press Association and Florida Society of News Editors invited Scott and Crist to make back-to-back appearances on July 10 at The Biltmore in Coral Gables. Crist accepted, and Scott's campaign said no Wednesday.
In an email to the Times-Herald, Scott's campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, said: "The governor will debate the Democratic nominee in the fall. Charlie Crist should stop playing games and stop hiding from Nan Rich. What is he scared of?"
Crist has consistently said he will not debate Rich, a former state Senate minority leader from Weston who is also seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary, scheduled for Aug. 26. The news groups invited Rich to speak the next day, July 11, but they wanted Scott and Crist to speak in direct proximity to each other on the afternoon of July 10.
Florida Press Association President Dean Ridings said he hoped Scott would reconsider. "We hope that he will consider appearing before our group and meeting with reporters and editors and publishers at our meeting," Ridings said.