FORT PIERCE, Fla. (TND) — Incumbent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his election opponent, former GOP Florida governor turned Democrat Charlie Crist, are taking the stage Monday night at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Florida, to go head-to-head in their only scheduled debate before their election on Nov. 8.
"Who's ready to tune in at 7pm ET to watch me tear his hateful agenda to shreds?" Crist tweeted Monday, several hours before the debate. "In case you haven’t heard: Ron DeSantis is a spineless, wannabe dictator who is going to lose in 16 days," he added in another tweet ahead of the debate.
READ MORE: "'Spineless, wannabee dictator': Charlie Crist slams Ron DeSantis on Twitter ahead of debate"
Hours before the debate's 7 p.m. start time Crist and DeSantis supporters met each other with chants outside the Sunrise Theatre.
"This is what Democracy looks like!" Crist supporters could be heard shouting in a video, while DeSantis voters could be heard countering with their own "Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie" chants.
Recent statewide polling from Florida Atlantic University (FAU)'s Business and Economics Polling Initiative (BEPI) shows DeSantis is leading Crist by 11-points.
READ MORE: "DeSantis leading Crist ahead of November election, new poll shows"
DeSantis, who is widely considered a likely GOP contender for president in 2024, garnered strong job approval ratings in the poll as well, particularity for his response to Hurricane Ian.
"The governor's hurricane response received strong approval among Floridians, who most likely favor him in the upcoming gubernatorial race," Monica Escaleras, BEPI's director, said.
Florida's large swath of Hispanic voters also appear to be on DeSantis's side going into Monday night's debate.
According to a new Telemundo/LX News poll, Hispanic Voters in Florida back DeSantis over Crist by 7-points (51% - 44%). This is a stark contrast from 2018, when DeSantis's former opponent Andrew Gillum took 54% of the Latino vote against DeSantis’s 44%, CNN’s exit polls from that year show.
Stream Monday night's debate online at www.floridadebate2022.com.