Here they go again. Incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy and Republican challenger former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) face off tonight in the second of two televised debates between the major-party candidates.
From NJTV News, one of the co-sponsors of the clash:
“The 60-minute debate, presented by NJ PBS, Rowan University, and public radio station WNYC 93.9 FM and 820 AM, will take place live on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. at Rowan University in Glassboro. It will be moderated by David Cruz, senior political correspondent at NJ Spotlight News; Colleen O’Dea, NJ Spotlight News’ senior writer and projects editor; Ben Dworkin, founding director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship, and WNYC’s Morning Edition host Michael Hill. Briana Vannozzi of NJ Spotlight News is scheduled to anchor the live coverage.”
The contest has not exactly captured a listless public’s imagination, mostly a function of Democrats’ considerable voter registration advantages, especially in the back-to-back double whammy of Chris Christie and Donald J. Trump.
Gov. Phil Murphy maintains a double-digit lead over challenger Jack Ciattarelli, although it is slightly smaller than the incumbent’s advantage in last month’s Monmouth University Poll. The Democrat continues to enjoy a large issue advantage on handling the pandemic, while the Republican has a small edge on taxes, according to Patrick Murray, who conducted the poll.
The Murphy campaign’s ads painting the GOP nominee as being too close to former President Donald Trump do not appear to have had much impact on the race, with half the electorate still having no opinion of Ciattarelli.
For his part, the Republican has steadily criticized Murphy on property taxes, in particular objecting to the Democrat saying that if property taxes are a voter’s issue, New Jersey is probably not that person’s state.
The first debate – aired on ABC News – showed two candidates equally possessed of a tough and educated New Jersey style, clearly delineating their views in unsparing fashion, clashing throughout but in a civil, thoughtful and well-spoken vein.
Each tried to depict the other as an extremist, as Democratic incumbent Murphy seized on Republican challenger Ciattarelli’s speaking role at a “Stop the Steal” rally to tie his rival to Trump and an insurrectionary right-wing mob. For his part, Ciattarelli hammered at Murphy’s reluctance to talk about property taxes and noted the state’s inflated budget, an $11 billion jump from the years of former Republican Governor Chris Christie.