The scheduling of the final gubernatorial debate between Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Barbara Buono has caused some controversy. The Buono campaign disapproves of having the debate Oct. 15 — the day before the special U.S. Senate election. Campaign Manager Jonathan Ducote told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the campaign is objecting to the date but if it can’t be rescheduled, Buono will participate.
Ducote said campaign officials aren’t comfortable with having the debate Oct. 15. “We think it’s a tremendous disservice to the public. We think there are too many competing items going on,” he said. “There’s a U.S. Senate special election the very next day that the media should cover and we think it will be very difficult for the media to properly cover both that race and this debate in the way they deserve to be treated.”
If the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) and Montclair State University absolutely cannot move the debate to a different date, Ducote said Buono will debate, but he hopes it can be rescheduled to perhaps Oct. 22, which was an earlier option.
Ducote said he believes having the debate Oct. 15 hurts both candidates. “I think it’s a disservice to the public. It hurts what should be a really robust discussion in this state about how to help fix the 400,000 people who are out of work and property taxes that are up 20 percent because of this governor,” he said.
When controversy previously arose, ELEC officials said Buono had not yet qualified for matching funds, which was required in order to schedule a debate. Ducote said she has since qualified and the campaign has received its first award from the matching funds pool.
He’s optimistic that Buono can be victorious in November. “Right now we think that we’re gonna have the resources that we need in order to spread Sen. Buono’s message, to talk about her plans to put 400,000 people back to work and to get property taxes under control,” Ducote said.