St. Petersburg College is hosting one of the most widely-watched events of the political season on Monday, Sept. 19: a debate by candidates for U.S. House District 13. The debate will be staged at the Palladium Theater, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, and is co-sponsored by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, the Tampa Bay Times and WTSP 10News. WTSP will broadcast the debate live from 7 to 8 p.m.
Political observers in Florida and around the nation are closely watching the campaign in District 13, which covers central and south Pinellas County. That’s because it is one of 15 House seats targeted by the Democratic Party nationally to gain control of Congress, and it features two well-known local candidates with a record for reaching across the aisle to seek consensus. They are former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat, and the incumbent, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican.
Long held by Republicans, District 13 became a more competitive district after being redrawn by court order in 2015. It is considered a swing district in the battle over control of Congress in this election. Rep. Jolly was elected in 2014 following the death of U.S. Rep. C. W. Bill Young, who held the seat for almost four decades and was a widely respected centrist.
Rep. Jolly has to an extent followed Young’s example, voting against his party’s majority on several key policy issues in his first term and speaking out against Congress’ focus on fund-raising at the expense of legitimate legislative work.
Former Gov. Crist spent most of his political career as a Republican, but switched to Independent for an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and to the Democratic Party in 2012.
The event is open to the public and admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are available at the Palladium box office, limit two per person, beginning at noon Wednesday, Aug. 31. For more information on the event, please visit the Institute’s website or call 727-394-6942. For questions regarding tickets, please contact the Palladium Box office at 727-822-3590.