Incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg has accepted his first debate for the Democratic nomination, but Rob Andrews’s campaign said that he needs to participate in more.
Lautenberg will participate in a televised debate on NJN, to be held Friday, May 30th at 8:00 p.m. at the network’s studios – just a few days before the June 3rd primary.
A Lautenberg press release said that he was the first candidate to accept the debate. But Andrews Campaign Chairman Michael Murphy said that one debate, held so close to the primary and on a night when so few people watch television is not good enough. Moreover, he said, the Andrews campaign reached out to NJN weeks ago and told them that they would accept any debate.
The network also invited Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello, who’s also running for the nomination.
“The reality is that we have accepted a dozen invitations to the debate and Frank has now apparently accepted one on a Friday, 72 hours before the polls open,” said Murphy. “It’s an interesting spin but it’s embarrassingly silly.”
Murphy said that he’d like Lautenberg to participate in prime time network television debates as well, but that Andrews would definitely participate in the NJN one.
“If Frank is going to be in front of a camera, we’ll be there with him.”
Lautenberg spokeswoman Julie Roginsky said that the campaign is “in the process of reviewing other options” for debates.
“This is just the first debate we’re announcing. And I think it’s offensive of Mike Murphy, who’s been on NJN many times, to disparage New Jersey’s only public television station,” she said.”We agree with congressman Andrews and Mayor Cresitello that there should be an opp to debate why Frank Lautenberg has been fighting for NJ while Rob Andrews is fighting for George Bush’s principles.”