A Democratic primary debate between U.S. Senate candidates Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy is officially on.
The two congressmen will participate in what the station is billing as "an exclusive one-on-one debate," which will air at 7 p.m. on Aug. 12. It will be broadcast on WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando and also be streamed online at wftv.com.
"The race for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida will be one of the most watched in the country. This is an important opportunity for our viewers to hear directly from the leading Democratic candidates on where they stand on the key issues facing our region, our country and the world,” said Paul Curran, vice president and general manager of WFTV Channel 9 and WRDQ TV-27.
"Our expectation is that both candidates will use this forum to better educate the voting public on their vision for the future," Curran added in his statement.
News anchor Greg Warmoth will moderate the debate, which the station said will include questions on national security, national and state economic issues, Florida's environment and gridlock in Washington, D.C.
It's expected to be the only debate between Grayson and Murphy, who thus far haven't been able to agree on any other joint appearance ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.
The three other Democratic U.S. Senate candidates who qualified for the primary ballot -- Pam Keith, Reginald Luster and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente -- were not invited to participate in WFTV's debate.
The station told the Herald/Times in a statement that participation was "predicated on each candidate's respective position in the polls."
"The threshold we used for our debate was 15 percent or higher. While there are many candidates for the Democratic Senate seat, only two meet that threshold: Rep. Patrick Murphy and Rep. Alan Grayson," the station said.
Luster and De La Fuente joined the race only last month in time to qualify for the ballot and haven't been included in any statewide polls. Keith has been campaigning for about 20 months, longer than any other candidate from either major party, but most polls haven't included her. In News 13 / Bay News 9 polls in March and in June, Keith got 11 percent and 10 percent support, respectively.
WFTV Channel 9 said it plans to open its studios "in the weeks ahead for all candidates on both the Democratic and Republican sides to communicate their stance on the issues to the people of Central Florida. We look forward to having them into our studios to tape these 3-minute segments."
No debates have been announced for the Republican candidates, incumbent Marco Rubio and challenger Carlos Beruff.