The first of two debates comes against the backdrop of new polling showing Democrat Jim Davis closing the gap making it a dead heat against Republican Charlie Crist.
Among other things, the two candidates are clashing over standardized testing, property insurance and property taxes.
Not on stage Tuesday night was Reform Party candidate Max Linn. An appellate court ruling blocked his appearance. The local party faithful who could not make it to Broward County watched the debate with interest from their neutral corners in Tallahassee.
They're vying for the top seat in Florida. Tuesday night both candidates go head to head in a debate with supporters statewide on hand, but those in the Capital City who couldn't attend gathered around town in Tallahassee. The Republican campaign was at Andrews Restaurant, Democrats at a viewing party at The Moon.
"I think this is the first time Floridians have had the opportunity to see these two men have a real dialogue about issues that are very important to them," said Jim Davis, a supporter of Gayle Andrews.
The debate was only an hour long, but hit important issues. Debate viewers say they are most interested in candidates' answers to questions about education and property taxes.
"I think Charlie's vision for the next four years on property taxes and homestead exemptions is important and I think that resonates with Floridians," said Crist campaign chairman Jason Gonzalez.
During the debate, Davis also said he would end the FCAT as we know it. Crist says the test has been an important part of measuring how well schools are doing.