Four Major Candidates for Governor Debate

ST. PETERSBURG -

It was a full house this morning at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors held a forum featuring the candidates for governor. On the Republican side, Tom Gallagher says he's the natural successor to Jeb Bush.

GALLAGHER: Part of that choice is, will we continue in the matter of which we've been moving in this state, I believe Jeb Bush has done an excellent job when you look at our economy - it's the strongest in the nation - we're sitting with a three percent unemployment level.

His main Republican opponent, Attorney General Charlie Crist, says he supports much of what Jeb Bush has done, particularly the priviatizing of many government services. But he believes there needs to be more accountability in Tallahassee.

CRIST: We have to make sure that the process is open, that the process is fair, that if you're going to choose private-sector people to get involved in things that have traditionally been governmental, that the people have transparency in that process and how it's conducted.

On the Democratic side, State Senator Rod Smith of Alachua says Governor Bush has ignored several key issues.

SMITH: I'm worried about where we're going in terms of public schools - that's what people want to know about - health care - they're scared to death about windstorm insurance. They want to know if they're going to have to have a reverse mortgage to keep their homes.

Tampa Congressman Jim Davis says he belives a lot of people want to see changes in the way state government is run.

DAVIS: I don't think this governor or legislature has gotten serious about managing our growth or putting money into infrastructure. And because of that, I believe our quality of life is slipping through our fingers more so than any time in your lifetime or mine.

The forum followed with debates feature candidates for the other state-wide offices.

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