What Just Happened? #Fangate At The Scott-Crist Gubernatorial Debate

Oct 15, 2014

Former Gov. Charlie Crist is known for bringing a small fan to speaking engagements.
Credit Michael Laughlin / South Florida Sun-Sentinel

It seemed like a joke at first. Sounding slightly perplexed, debate moderator Eliott Rodriguez of CBS Miami said, "We have been told that Gov. Scott will not be participating in this debate."

And Twitter exploded, as it was bound to do during the first English-language debate of the 2014 Florida governor's race. But who knew it would explode so early on?

Incumbent Gov. Rick Scott refused to enter the stage at Broward College's Bailey Hall for about six minutes. He was protesting former Gov. Charlie Crist's placement of a small electric fan inside Crist's podium, there to keep him "comfortable."

The former governor avoids visible perspiration by bringing a small fan with him to speaking appearances, even small engagements like a meeting with the Miami Herald's editorial board this past August.

Scott's camp said debate rules forbid electronics. Crist's camp said the set of rules they signed allowed for the fan.

WLRN reporter John O'Connor was at the debate, and said Crist's camp passed out the following note to members of the press:

Following boos from the crowd, Gov. Scott stepped onto the stage. But his initial refusal had taken its toll. The clock was running. The voters were puzzled. "Fangate" had started.

Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association, debate organizers, released a clarification of their debate rules, which prohibited all electronics, including fans. Although Gov. Scott came off as the culprit of Fangate, it was Crist who broke the organizers' rules. But that may not influence voters.

Following the debate, moderator Eliott Rodriguez joined WLRN on air. Hear him talk with host Tom Hudson about just how much Fangate cost -- both the candidates and the voters.

And catch what other gems from Florida's political Twitter you might have missed by scrolling through our chat archive below.