Two of the Florida candidates running for U.S. Senate, a Republican and a Democrat, are scheduled to participate next week in their first one-on-one debate -- online.
The debate between Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Republican Rep. David Jolly of Indian Shores is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 25 at FloridaOpenDebate.com. It's organized by the Open Debate Coalition, which includes Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Progressive Change Institute; Grover Norquist of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, and Silicon Valley-types, such as the founders of Wikipedia and Craigslist.
Online users will be able to submit questions, and vote questions up or down. The top 30 vote-getting questions will get asked. Only votes from Florida users will count when selecting the final questions.
Debate moderators include The Young Turks (of YouTube fame) and Independent Journal Review (of Vine fame). Anyone with a website or TV station will be able to broadcast the debate, live or as a rerun, without worrying about copyright infringement, as part of the debate's "open video feed."
"This debate represents a new high-water mark when it comes to debates that represent the will of the people," Lilia Tamm, the coalition's program director, said in a statement. "Bottom-up Open Debates unite people across the political spectrum because they are not about right versus left, but new versus old. With modern technology, we can utilize the wisdom of crowds at FloridaOpenDebate.com and bypass silly questions, gotcha questions, and questions about the news of the week -- and focus on issues voters care about most."
The Open Debate Coalition asked Jolly and Grayson to participate after the two candidates said last month they'd be willing to debate each other. Both are running in the Aug. 30 primary for their respective parties. The only other candidate to meet the coalition's criteria -- averaging 15 percent or more in public, 2016 polls -- was Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. The coalition said he declined to participate.
"This is a debate over the future of Florida, officiated by the voters, and intended to present two contrasting visions for the future of the country," Jolly said in a statement.
Said Grayson: "Rep. Jolly agreed to join me in debating the issues that matter most to those who will pick Florida's next Senator. Using the Open Debate Coalition model helps ensure we actually respond to the will of the people -- and not just answer to the whims and wishes of the Establishment and special interest agendas."