Governor debate watch party

Grace Banahan, an 18-year-old political science and journalism major, listens to Florida Governor candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum debate on corruption and racism Wednesday night at the Governor's Debate Watch Party in Pugh Hall. Banahan is voting for her first time this year.


Tyler Groves said he already voted in the Florida governor’s race, but Andrew Gillum made him second-guess his choice.

The 20-year-old UF political science and religion senior was impressed by how Gillum — a Democrat — performed in the final gubernatorial debate he saw at a Gators Vote Everywhere watch party Wednesday night in Pugh Hall Ocora. The watch party brought in about 55 people to watch the debate between Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis.

“I would change my vote to Gillum if I could,” Groves said.

The debate touched on topics such as health care, environmental policy and clean water.

The watch party was meant to educate and motivate voters before Election Day on Nov. 6, said Jenna Tingum, a 20-year-old UF statistics junior and the team leader and an event organizer of Gators Vote Everywhere.

“It is not only important to vote but to get educated and vote for someone you resonate with,” Tingum said.

Although the two-hour debate did not provide enough time to deeply broach any of the subjects important to voters, it did allow viewers to get an understanding of the prospective governors as people, Groves said.

“It is easy to read their mail, but seeing how they react in person is a much better representation of who they are as people,” Groves said.

Gators Vote Everywhere, the non-partisan UF chapter of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, strives to educate voters before they hit the polls. Getting people to understand their options and finding a candidate who aligns with their beliefs is important, Tingum said.

“Find what you’re passionate about and let that drive your vote and your role in your democracy,” Tingum said.

Alfredo Patiño, a 22-year-old UF political science and sociology senior, said paying attention to the political process is not only important for the country, but it is important for voters as well.

“People don’t truly understand how politics affects their daily lives,” Patiño said.

A debate between the UF College Democrats and UF College Republicans was supposed to happen before the watch party but was canceled because of a scheduling conflict, said Katy Frey, a 19-year-old UF environmental management in agriculture and natural resources sophomore and intern for Gators Vote Everywhere. Still, the event was a success, she said.

“Debates motivate people that their vote matters,” Frey said.