Candidates on camera

With November’s election waiting in the wings, NJPAC hosts the first of two gubernatorial debates.


In a live broadcast from Prudential Hall on October 10, NJPAC became the first of two venues to host a debate by New Jersey’s frontrunners in the race leading to the November 7 gubernatorial election.


Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) and former U.S. ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy (D) faced off before an invited audience of nearly 700, among whom were past Governors Tom Kean, Jim Florio and Jim McGreevey. The widely viewed event was televised from Newark via ABC and its affiliates, including WPVI in Philadelphia, along with Univision, and livestreamed by and Twitter. Radio coverage was provided by WBGO in Newark, WHYY in Philadelphia and WADO in New York, in addition to recaps and opinion pieces by leading print media.


While the escalation of property taxes emerged as the overriding issue, the candidates batted at questions concerning transit and infrastructure; the plight of New Jersey’s estimated 22,000 “dreamers” (undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children); and gun control in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting. During their scrappy exchange, the opponents warily circled matters associated with Chris Christie’s administration, such as the decriminalization of marijuana and the rehabilitation of the pension system. 


“This is NJPAC’s 20th anniversary year, and we’re so proud to serve as not just a venue for world-class performances, but also – as Governor Tom Kean envisioned so many years ago – as a town hall for all of New Jersey, a place for us to gather, discuss, and, like tonight, debate,” said NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber. “We’re so appreciative to PSEG for supporting the debate and for its longstanding, ongoing partnership with the Arts Center.”


The New York Times described the debate as “an hourlong rumpus that was both acerbic and wonkish.” NJ Advance Media asked pundits to weigh in on which candidate they thought shone, and NJ Spotlight called “no clear winner” in Round One. The moderators were ABC anchors Toni Yates and Jim Gardner; journalists from NJ Advance Media, NJ Spotlight and WBGO also were welcomed to the stage to pose questions.


The second debate will be held on October 18 at 7pm at William Paterson University in Wayne and aired by WCBS-TV.


Oct. 11, 2017