Florida Democratic House candidate Alex Sink has decided against NBC and White House correspondent Chuck Todd moderating next month's debate between her and Republican challenger David Jolly.
Sink's campaign told the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce that they wanted to be questioned in the Feb. 25 forum by Susan McManus, a University of South Florida political scientist, Politico reports.
McManus had been initially selected as moderator.
“We are still in negotiations with the Sink folks," Bob Clifford, the chamber's president and CEO, told Politico on Friday. "We met with the Sink folks for three hours yesterday. They have made it clear with us that they are not going to be engaging with NBC. As of this minute, that is totally off the table.
"We’re still in negotiations right now," Clifford added. "We’re hoping they’ll reconsider."
Sink, the state's former chief financial officer who lost to Gov. Rick Scott last year, and Jolly are squaring off
in a special election for the seat left vacant by the death of Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young. The district is within the Tampa Bay area's Pinellas County.
Sink is slightly ahead of Jolly, 42 percent to 35 percent, in the hotly-contested race — and the GOP has been hammering her
with ads pointing out her support for Obamacare.
Meanwhile, Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby, who finished with 4 percent in the poll, is also in the race — but organizers have not yet decided whether he would participate in the debate.
Jolly apparently had no problem with Todd serving as moderator, Politico reports. The correspondent, who is a Florida native, also hosts "The Daily Rundown" on MSNBC.
Sink aides told Politico that bringing in Todd now deviated from their original plans.
“In January, our campaign agreed to a grass-roots, forum style event with all the candidates, with a local moderator and with questions from the audience — with the goal of facilitating an open and thoughtful conversation about the issues facing the Pinellas [County] business community,” Ashley Walker, a Sink spokeswoman, told Politico in an email.
“This week,” she added, “our campaign was informed that the Clearwater chamber was planning to significantly change the event from the original format that was agreed upon, excluding a candidate and limiting grass-roots participation.
"We are in the process of negotiations with the event organizer to ensure that the original goals of the event will be maintained,” Walker said.
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