Corzine’ M.O.: Seek fewer debates, then do them anyway

This is Jon Corzine’s fourth (and perhaps last) contested race for statewide office, and it’s the fourth time his campaign has been accused of ducking debates. Corzine seems to initially balk at debates, and then ultimately give in and participate. That lends some credibility to the theory that the governor would wind up taking part in NJN’s October 1 debate if the Election Law Enforcement Commission declines to move the debate to October 22.

During his bid for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in 2000, former Gov. Jim Florio accepted eight debate invitations and his campaign asked Corzine to participate in all eight. Corzine initially said he would only debate Florio twice, but after debates became a process story, Corzine wound up debating Florio four times in eight days.

In the general election, Republican Robert Franks called on Corzine to debate him 21 times – once in each county. Again, Corzine sought just two debates, but under some pressure wound up agreeing to three, including two on network television.

During the 2005 gubernatorial campaign, Republican Douglas Forrester sought to make debate ducking an issue after Corzine initially said he would debate three times. Forrester got Corzine up to four, and then the two met in a fifth debate that was put together quickly after WNBC’s Gabe Pressman invited the two to debate on the Sunday before the election.

Corzine’ M.O.: Seek fewer debates, then do them anyway