October 18, 2004


Debate may prove decisive: With Florida's contentious U.S. Senate race deadlocked, the candidates appear together for the first time tonight in a televised debate. (BETH REINHARD AND MARC CAPUTO, 10/18/04, Miami Herald)

While tonight's televised debate between Florida's U.S. Senate nominees probably won't be spoofed on Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show, it will feature the trappings of a nationally watched, highly competitive contest.

NBC's Tim Russert will moderate the hourlong match-up between Democrat Betty Castor and Republican Mel Martinez in Tampa. Fox News, CNN and C-SPAN will be among the 19 satellite trucks. An estimated 1.5 million viewers will watch the live event.

A Mason-Dixon poll released Sunday showed Castor and Martinez tied at 45 percent, with only 9 percent of voters undecided. In such a neck-and-neck contest, any zingers or flubs could make a difference in who goes to bed the winner on Nov. 2 -- and may help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2004 9:20 AM

I don't get the Mr. Lamb reference.

Hopefully Martinez picks up this seat for the GOP. If the GOP displays the same statewide power it showed in the 2002 elections he should be fine.

Posted by: AWW at October 18, 2004 9:33 AM

Does that refer to Brian Lamb of C-SPAN?

I also don't get it.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at October 18, 2004 12:12 PM

That poll doesn't make any sense. My reading is that Martinez is winning a solid margin in Dade,and throughout North Florida, while Castor isn't really pulling any great numbers anywhere. There is plenty of fallout against her in the Jewish community in Broward and Palm Beach, which she lost against Deutsch, as she is perceived as soft on Muslim terrorists, precisely because she is soft on Muslim terrorists. Al-Arian is sticking to her like a tar baby.

Posted by: Bart at October 18, 2004 12:25 PM

Well, those outside of Florida will get to see the debate, thanks to Mr. Lamb's C-Span cameras. And if the debate is as lopsided as the one Russert moderated in the guubernatorial race two years ago, it will end up being a net plus for the Republicans nationally.

Posted by: John at October 18, 2004 2:44 PM