Gubernatorial debate at the College now unlikely

As of now, the gubernatorial debate that was to be held at the College next month will not be taking place. The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund, which was sponsoring the event, announced earlier last week that Gov. Jon S. Corzine refused to take part in the debate and Republican candidate Chris Christie has refused to participate without Corzine.

Messages seeking comment were not returned by  Chrisite and Corzine campaign staff.

The League said only independent candidate Chris Daggett has agreed to participate.

“We are currently exploring the possible options of rescheduling,” Jesse Burns, League of Women Voters Director of Communications and Projects, said. The debate was originally supposed to be aired live on Tuesday, Oct. 13 and would have run for an hour.

According to Burns, this debate would have reached every household in the state via 6abc Philadelphia and WABC 7 New York and would have preempted the popular shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

If rescheduled, the debate would be additional to two other  debates, which are publicly funded and have been sanctioned by the Election Law Enforcement Commission. All three candidates will be participating in these debates, although only Corzine is not required to do because his campaign is largely self-financed and is not accepting public funding.

“We are dedicated to the voters of this state and wish the candidates valued the voters with the same dedication. New Jersey needs a third debate, held by experienced nonpartisan sponsors, in primetime, and on the most watched television stations.” Anne Ruach Nicolas, League of Women Voters Executive Director, said. “It is the voters who lose when the candidates do not take every opportunity to be seen and heard in fair and nonpartisan debates. Participation in our primetime debate would reach the most voters and allow the voters to make an informed decision based on the issues rather than from negative television ads and campaign controlled messaging.”

Gubernatorial debates have been held at the College in previous years, including 2005 and 2001. According to Matthew Golden, the College’s executive director of Public Relations and Communication, these debates were successful and the College would love to host a gubernatorial debate.

Golden also said that although students have attended the debates in the past, he was not certain whether or not students would be able to attend the League’s debate if it is rescheduled and held at the College. According to Golden, students who attended past debates were able to develop and submit questions for the candidates.