MSU Professor Says First Gubernatorial Debate Offers Both Candidates Opportunities

With the first debate between Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Barbara Buono for the New Jersey governor’s race happening tonight, NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider sat down with political observer and Montclair State University Professor Brigid Callahan Harrison to discuss her opinion on the race for governor.

Harrison said that Christie needs to focus on making his case to the voters around the nation that will be watching tonight because he has already made his case to the New Jersey voters, since he is looking ahead to the future. “The other thing that is really imperative to him is that he can’t lose his temper and I think that if I am Sen. Buono, I am going to try to poke that bear, trying to get him to lose his temper, infuriate him,” Harrison said.

“I think there are different tactics for each candidate. Sen. Buono really now needs to set up her case with her base support. We see time and again that she is losing support among Democrats and I think that this will be one of her final opportunities to do that,” said Harrison.

With around three dozen Democratic elected officials campaigning with Christie and making public appearances with him, Buono needs to gain more Democratic support, according to Harrison. “For her to have a viable political career, moving forward, we are not even talking about winning this election. We are talking about remaining a state legislator. She really needs to at least sure up her support among those Democratic support loyalists,” said Harrison.

A situation such as this, where this many elected officials have supported a member of the opposite party is astounding and has not been seen before, according to Harrison.

Harrison believes Christie appeals to the New Jersey voting electorate and the people of New Jersey enjoy having a governor that is respected in the national spotlight. Harrison said, “I think that the most important thing for the governor is that he appears statesman like.”