Press Releases

S⁠t⁠a⁠t⁠emen⁠t⁠ Release: Flor⁠i⁠da Trend Jo⁠i⁠ns Par⁠t⁠nersh⁠i⁠p for “Before You Vo⁠t⁠e” Telev⁠i⁠sed Deba⁠t⁠e Projec⁠t⁠ ⁠i⁠n Races for Governor, U.S. Sena⁠t⁠e

By: The James Madison Institute / 2022

The James Madison Institute

Press Releases


February 16, 2022

Florida Trend, the Sunshine State’s highly respected “Business Authority,” has joined the “Decision 2022: Before You Vote” televised debate project as a key partner in the planned general election faceoffs this fall for Governor and U.S. Senator.

The longest-running televised debate project in Florida’s modern history expects national interest in the debates to be held at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus in mid-October.

Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, both national political figures, are expected to easily win renomination from Republican voters as they seek reelection to their respective positions against Democrat challengers still to be determined in the 2022 primary election process. The two incumbents both participated in the “Before You Vote” televised debates in their races in 2016 (Rubio) and 2018 (DeSantis).

Florida Trend joins the debate project with its other anchoring partners: The James Madison Institute, AARP Florida, the LeRoy Collins Institute, and the Florida Press Association. Underwriting sponsors already committed to the project include the Florida League of Cities and AARP. Two more sponsors are expected to join.

“Among the issues that matter most to Florida are strengthening the state’s economy and creating jobs that help our citizens compete on a national and global scale,” said David Denor, Publisher of Florida Trend. “We’re excited to join this well-established debate project that has proven its reliability and fairness in so many elections cycles for nearly 20 years.”

On behalf of the coalition of non-partisan project partners, Dr. J. Robert McClure, President and CEO of The James Madison Institute, welcomed the addition of Florida Trend to the debate series.

“For more than 60 years, Florida Trend has been the respected journalistic bible for our state’s diverse and flourishing business community,” said McClure. “It is always relevant and trustworthy in any meaningful conversations about the most important issues facing our state. We’re so pleased and proud to have Florida Trend as an anchoring partner.”

The debates are planned for live broadcast on a Tuesday night and a Thursday night in the same week, from 7-8 p.m. Eastern, except in Florida’s Panhandle communities of Pensacola and Panama City, where they will be broadcast one hour later (7-8pm Central).  Members of a consortium of network affiliate television stations – one in each Florida market – are committed as broadcast partners. WPBF-Ch. 25/ABC, the Hearst station in West Palm Beach, will again be the producing station.

Alongi Media will produce both debates. The global media company was founded by former longtime NBC News Executive Producer Phil Alongi Sr. and is jointly operated by Phil Alongi II, Executive Producer and alumnus of PBS and NBC News. The highly decorated father and son duo run a team of producers who have won more than 100 Emmy Awards for debates and broadcast specials. Alongi Media produced the successful and highly acclaimed 2016 “Before You Vote” debate in which Sen. Rubio faced former Congressman Patrick Murphy, and the similarly successful 2018 debate in which then-Congressman Ron DeSantis faced former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. As in those prior debates, WPBF anchorman Todd McDermott will moderate the programs with a select panel of journalists, to be determined.

Here’s the lineup of broadcast partners in Florida’s 10 distinct markets:

West Palm Beach           WPBF (ABC)                                      Gainesville   WCJB (ABC)

Miami/Ft. Lauderdale    WTVJ (NBC)                                     Tallahassee  WCTV (CBS)

Orlando                             WESH (NBC)                                    Pensacola    WEAR (ABC)

Jacksonville                      WJXX  (ABC)                                     Panama City WMBB (ABC)

Tampa/St. Petersburg    WFLA (NBC)                                     Fort Myers    WBBH (NBC)

As in past election cycles, the debates will be simulcast on statewide public radio, on participating TV stations’ websites, and on daily newspaper websites – with a national rebroadcast expected on C-SPAN after each of the live debate programs has aired.

More details about the “Decision 2022: Before You Vote” debate project will be shared soon, including the criterion for major candidates’ participation in the debates.


About Florida Trend

With its history and unique perspective, Florida Trend has made itself indispensable to Florida’s business community and the state’s political leaders. The magazine and its website offer regionally based stories and reporting with statewide impact. Florida Trend’s thorough journalism is recognized each year with regional and national awards for editorial excellence.

About The James Madison Institute
Through outreach and education, The James Madison Institute advances public policy solutions that provide all Floridians greater access to economic freedom, prosperity, and opportunity to pursue the lives they desire.


About the LeRoy Collins Institute
The mission of the LeRoy Collins Institute, located at Florida State University, is to perpetuate the leadership of Governor LeRoy Collins by developing and promoting bold and visionary public policy that will empower and uplift Floridians for generations to come.

About AARP Florida
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, including 2.8 million in Florida, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability, and personal fulfillment.

About The Florida Press Association
The Florida Press Association is a nonprofit organization with a purpose to protect the freedom and advance the professional standards of the press in Florida, with a membership of Florida’s daily and weekly newspapers and online local media. Visit to learn more.

About the Florida League of Cities
For more than 100 years, the Florida League of Cities has been the united voice for Florida’s cities, towns, and villages. A steadfast advocate for local self-government, the League supports local voices making local choices to protect and enhance Florida’s communities. Visit to learn more.

About Palm Beach State College
Founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State has grown from three classrooms and 41 local students to five campuses and more than 40,000 students from more than 157 countries. One of the top producers of associate degree graduates in the U.S., PBSC also offers baccalaureate degrees, professional certificates, career training, and corporate and continuing education.

About WPBF

WPBF, virtual channel 25 (UHF digital channel 16), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Tequesta, Florida, United States, serving the Gold and Treasure Coasts of South Florida. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of New York City–based Hearst Communications.