Daggett urges ELEC not to move debate

Independent gubernatorial candidate Christopher Daggett urged the Election Law Enforcement Commission’s (ELEC) commissioners today to reject Gov. Corzine’s bid to delay the first state-sponsored gubernatorial debate in a letter this morning.

“In a gubernatorial campaign that has been dominated by negative advertising and petty personal attacks, this shift in the debate schedule would prevent voters from being able to listen to the candidates discuss the issues face-to-face until relatively late in the campaign and would limit significantly the ability of voters to assess the candidates’ public performance over the usual period of weeks following debates,” wrote Daggett.

The Corzine camp told NJN that it would participate in the October 1 debate, which led NJN – hoping to include the governor – to request the date bumped back to October 22.

The ELEC commissioners will hold a telephonic meeting this afternoon to discuss the request.

Daggett laid out an argument that the Corzine campaign’s date preference is not a compelling enough reason to change the debate schedule.

“Mr. Corzine’s preference not to debate on or near that date is not a fact undermining NJN’s control, as would be a natural or man-made disaster, equipment failure or similar external events. NJN picked October 1, and did everything required with the Commission and the candidates to finalize that date,” he wrote.

Daggett and Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie are required to participate in two ELEC-sponsored debates because they take matching funds from the state. Corzine, who does not take state funds, is not obligated to participate.

The Corzine campaign has not given a reason why Corzine will not be available on October 1. Spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith said “We have not made any decisions on debates.”

Delaying the first debate to late October would compress the ELEC-sponsored debate schedule into less than one week. The debate among lieutenant governor candidates, which is scheduled for October 8, would have to be moved to a slot between the October 16 gubernatorial debate and the proposed October 22 debate, since ELEC requires that debate to take place between the two with candidates for governor.

Daggett also noted that October 22 is the tentative date for Game 5 of Major League Baseball’s American League championship game, although NJN – not Corzine – picked the specific date.

“In a gubernatorial campaign that has been dominated by negative advertising and petty personal attacks, this shift in the debate schedule would prevent voters from being able to listen to the candidates discuss the issues face-to-face until relatively late in the campaign and would limit significantly the ability of voters to assess the candidates’ public performance over the usual period of weeks following debates,” wrote Daggett.

Daggett urges ELEC not to move debate