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Criteria for Participation in the Decision 2014 Debates


Statement of Purpose

Leadership Florida Statewide Community Foundation, Inc. (Leadership Florida®) and Florida Press Association (together, the "Partners") are producing televised debates among the 2014 Florida candidates for the race for Governor.

Leadership Florida Statewide Community Foundation, Inc. is a private, non-profit, nonpartisan, Florida membership organization created for the purpose of educating Florida's leaders about the issues critical to the state.

Florida Press Association is a private, non-profit, nonpartisan membership organization comprised of Florida daily and weekly newspapers.

The Partners are private corporate entities and are not state actors, agents or agencies. The debates will be financed by private funding provided by the Partners and debate sponsors and no public money will be used to produce the debates.

The goal of the debates is to offer the citizens of Florida an opportunity, in a broad-ranging debate format, to learn about, compare, and carefully consider those candidates from whom Florida voters will elect a Governor. The Partners are considering debates for the primary elections in which the Democratic and Republican Parties will select their 2014 Gubernatorial nominees and are planning a debate for the general election. In order to achieve this goal, the Partners adopt these Candidate Selection Rules (the "Rules") for identifying those candidates who will be invited to participate in the televised debates. It is the intent of the Partners that the Rules comply with all applicable legal requirements and that an invitation to participate in the debate will be extended to qualifying candidates based upon the application of pre-established, objective criteria as expressed in the Rules. Whether the Partners will hold primary debates will depend on the number of candidates qualifying for the primary elections and polling results and will be determined in the sole discretion of the Partners.


2014 Florida Debate Schedule

Primary election debates, should there be any, will occur prior to the Florida primary election scheduled for Tuesday, August 12. The debates are tentatively scheduled to take place on July 29 and July 30* at a location yet to be determined.

The televised general election debate will occur prior to the Florida general election scheduled for Tuesday, November 4, 2014. The debate is tentatively scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m. October 15* at the Central Campus of Broward College in Davie.

* Subject to change

Candidate Selection Rules

  1. To qualify to be invited to participate in a debate, the candidate must satisfy all of the following criteria:

    1. The candidates must satisfy all of the eligibility requirements of the governing body responsible for the elections.

    2. The candidate must be legally qualified for and registered to participate as a candidate in the 2014 State of Florida Governor elections.

    3. A major party candidate (i.e., Republican and Democratic parties) must appear as a candidate for Governor on his or her party's Florida primary ballot for a primary debate and on the general election ballot as his or her party's candidate.

    4. Non-major party and/or independent candidates who meet the eligibility requirements in these rules will be eligible to participate in the general election debate.

    5. For primary debates, if held, a qualifying candidate must have at least 15% support (including the full benefit of a 4% +/- margin of error, based on a sample size of 600 to 650 among all likely voters who will participate in that candidate's primary) as determined by a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, or other such independent poll as to be determined exclusively by the partners. Such poll shall be conducted and completed between 10 and 60 days before the primary election day.

      For the general election debates, a qualifying candidate must have at least 15% support (including the full benefit of a 4% +/- margin of error based on a sample size of 600 to 650) among all likely voters who will participate in the general election as determined by a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research or other such independent poll as to be determined exclusively by the partners. Such poll shall be conducted and completed between 10 and 60 days before the general election day.

      By way of example, if a poll shows a candidate receiving 12% support among all registered voters, and the poll's margin of error is 4%, the candidate's support, including the full benefit of the margin of error, is 16%. If such a candidate meets the other criteria set forth in these Rules, that candidate would qualify to be invited to participate in the debate.

      The Partners reserve the right, in their sole discretion, to broaden or change the criteria if the accepted poll indicates that there are more than 35% undecided voters without regard to margin of error. Such poll shall be conducted and completed between 10 and 60 days before the primary election day. If a poll shows that 35% of registered voters are undecided, candidates may be invited if they receive at least 10% (including the full benefit of a 4% +/- margin of error based on a sample size of 600 to 650) among all likely voters who will participate in the general election as determined by a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research or other such independent poll as to be determined exclusively by the partners. The Partners will include all candidates who receive at least 10% support if they select to invoke this option.

    6. The candidate must agree to abide by all rules concerning the conduct of the debate.

    7. For purposes of these rules, the term independent poll means a poll that is not commissioned or performed by or on behalf of a candidate or the supporter of a candidate or by or on behalf of a political party. The Partners reserve the sole and absolute discretion to determine whether a poll is independent and will be used to determine eligibility.

  2. The deadline to meet the requirements of these Rules for participation in a primary debate is 10 days before the primary debate. The deadline to meet the requirements of these Rules for participation in the general election debates is 10 days before the general election debate.

  3. The Partners will not accept any other polling results, specifically including but not limited to any polling results paid for or otherwise obtained, directly or indirectly, by a candidate, a candidate's campaign, or any supporter of the candidate.

  4. The Partners or their designee may cancel, postpone, or reschedule this debate in their sole discretion. The Partners are not responsible or otherwise liable for any cost or expense of any candidate in the event the Partners cancel, postpone, or reschedule this debate.
     
  5. ALL DECISIONS CONCERNING THIS DEBATE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO CANDIDATE QUALIFICATIONS, CANDIDATE INVITATIONS, AND THE INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF THESE RULES, ARE WITHIN THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE PARTNERS OR THEIR DESIGNEE AND SHALL BE FINAL. THE PARTNERS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO ALTER OR AMEND THESE RULES AT THEIR SOLE DISCRETION.


  
  
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