Charlie Crist, who's seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, won't debate primary rival Nan Rich.
Speaking to reporters before a Tuesday fundraiser, Crist was direct when asked — twice — if he expected to debate Rich. "I don't," he said both times.
"This is not a race really about candidates. This is a race about people of our state: about teachers, about law enforcement officers, about firefighters. People that, in my opinion, have not been honored the way they deserve to be honored. That's really what I'm focused on," he said.
Rich, a former Florida Senate Democratic leader from Weston, isn't nearly as well-known as Crist, the former one-term Republican governor who ran for U.S. Senate as a no-party independent in 2010 and is now a Democrat seeking the nomination to run for his old job.
On the day Crist announced his candidacy, Rich offered the usual response from a lesser-known, lesser-funded candidate and suggested a series of 10 debates. Candidates who are running behind always demand lots of debates; front-runners avoid as many as they can.
Crist said he's focused entirely on Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Crist was in Fort Lauderdale for a fundraiser at the offices of Greenspoon Marder, where one of his top advisers, former Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller, is a shareholder. About 60 people attended, with members of the host committee contributing $5,000 and others paying $500.
Geller wouldn't say how much the event raised. "We had a goal and we met our goal."
Former Broward Democratic state committeeman Mike Moskowitz was among those attending. "I want to win. I've known Charlie for years," he said. "I want the Democrats to recapture the Governor's Mansion."
Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson said Crist is doing "very well."
Also supporting Crist is Don Reynolds, 61, a Hollywood resident and North Miami Beach police officer, who was at the law firm on other business. He didn't attend the fundraiser, but saw Crist in the lobby.
Reynolds, a Republican, said it was "really a treat" to meet Crist, who he wants to see back as governor. "He did such a great job when he was in. I think he's for the people."
Video of Charlie Crist answering questions at SunSentinel.com/BrowardPolitics