If the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission grants NJN’s petition to move the gubernatorial debate from October 1 to October 22, it will mean that the other debate sponsors – seven daily newspapers — will be unable to endorse a candidate until October 23 at the earliest. Debate rules require that sponsors not take sides in the race for governor until after the debate is over. The NJN debate is sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Gannett New Jersey, which operates the Asbury Park Press, the Courier-Post, the Daily Journal, the Daily Record, the Home News Tribune and the Courier News.
The Star-Ledger and The Record may not endorse until after their debate, which could also have a new date if ELEC changes the debate schedule. It is unclear whether the Jersey Journal, the Trenton Times, the Express Times, the Gloucester County Times must also wait until after the Star-Ledger debate, since they now share content.
How important are newspaper endorsements anyway? In 2005, Douglas Forrester edged out Jon Corzine in the endorsements sweepstakes 8-9, but Corzine won the election by ten percentage points. Forrester was endorsed by the Asbury Park Press, the Courier News, the Courier-Post, the Daily Record, the Home News Tribune, the New York Post, The Record, the Star-Ledger, and the Trentonian. Corzine was backed by the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Press of Atlantic City, the Gloucester County Times, the Express-Times, the Daily Journal, and the New York Daily News.
Corzine has never fared exceptionally well in the endorsement game. In his 2000 U.S. Senate race, Robert Franks was endorsed by 17 daily newspapers, while 6 went for Corzine.