Yesterday, July 10, 2014, Libertarian Party of Florida Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie confronted Florida Press Association (FPA) President & CEO Dean Ridings at the Coral Gables iconic Biltmore Hotel. The FPA is conducting its 2014 convention at the hotel and had invited Charlie Crist, Nan Rich and Rick Scott to speak for a candidate forum. Scott chose not to attend and since Crist and Rich are not on the best of terms, the FPA split its candidate forum into two days--one for Crist and one for Rich. Crist has refused to share a stage with Rich, so the FPA bent over backward to accommodate him.
Wyllie was not invited to the event. The FPA went to the extra trouble of stationing a police officer outside the event with a large picture of Wyllie so the officer would have no trouble recognizing the Gubernatorial candidate and to make certain he did not get into the convention room.
It turns out there was no legitimate candidate forum; yesterday simply had Charlie Crist spinning his rhetoric. This morning, Nan Rich will do the same.
Early in the afternoon, Wyllie confronted Ridings asking to speak with the reporters and media executives in attendance with equal time as with Crist and Rich would be getting. Although Ridings was kind and respectful, he would not allow Wyllie equal stage time. A video of the exchange can be found here. Ridings did make an accommodation allowing Wyllie and a campaign staffer to mingle with FPA membership during an afternoon break.
During their exchange, Ridings continually asserted to Wyllie that he has "full access to the press". Wyllie assured Ridings that is clearly not the case, which Riding would not accept. Ridings said, "The press is open to you all the time. I believe you do have access to the media."
Wyllie suggested that since Rick Scott had declined to attend the event that he would fill Rick Scott's chair--no dice. Wyllie then suggested that Ridings at least make an announcement to his membership that he is there and willing to speak with them. It is then that Ridings offered Wyllie to speak with his members in an exhibit hall during an upcoming break.
The exchange also revealed that Ridings did not know the number of candidates who have qualified to be on the ballot in the Florida Gubernatorial race. Nine candidates' names will be printed on the ballot and nine others who have qualified to be write-in candidates. Ridings also said we live in a democracy; however, Wyllie quickly corrected him, educating him that we live in a Republic and not a democracy. Ridings responded, "I stand corrected."
Fortunate for Wyllie, the event was a success as he was exchanging information with many reporters. George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post interviewed him and Wyllie was positively received by several executives and reporters. The truth of the day's success will be whether Wyllie continues to be ignored when it comes to printing future stories about Florida' Gubernatorial campaign or he is included as a serious candidates.