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Scott & Crist Face Off, Stick To Scripts (Mostly)

Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist squared off at Broward College Wednesday evening, in the second of three debates. The event was delayed over a last-minute dispute that’s come to be known as “FanGate.”

Crist, the Democratic nominee, took the stage alone at the appointed hour. But Governor Scott Rick Scott delayed the start of the debate because of an electric fan below Crist's podium.

Crist was alone on the stage for about five minutes. He always uses an electronic fan at public appearances to avoid sweating. Eventually, the incumbent Republican made his appearance.

Among those in attendance was Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

“This has been the most oversaturated, negative campaign that Floridians have been subjected to,” said McManus. “And just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.”

Once the debate began, the only instance when Scott and Crist agreed was on their Methodist faith. They were on opposite sides on the other 15 issues, such as same-sex marriage, the economy, expanding Medicaid, and the environment.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in south Florida on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit filed by Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie, who was seeking to force his way onto the stage.

“Wyllie’s problem is that he doesn’t have the money to run ads,” said McManus. “And he’s totally dependent on the media, and the media’s sort of discounting him. If he were to get into a debate I suspect that his numbers could go up.”

Some of the most recent polls show Wyllie at eight or nine percent, while Crist and Scott are in the 40s, locked in a virtual dead heat. The third and final debate in the Florida governor's race is next Tuesday in Jacksonville, to be carried by CNN.

McManus believes the negative tone of the campaign will last right to Election Day on November 4 – which could have an impact on turnout.

“And the fan episode, while entertaining and perhaps hilarious to some, it could be disturbing to others that might have been thinking about voting, but now say ‘It really isn’t worth it.’”