Flat tax and conservative cred remain chief issues for Kyrillos and Butehorn respectively

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Intheir NJN mano-a-manothis morning,Lonegan Campaign Chairman Hank Butehorn and Christie Campaign Chairmanstate Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middetown) mostly scrapped over Lonegan's proposed flat tax and Christie's conservative credentials.

"We disagree on how to cut income taxes," Kyrillos told NJN senior political correspondent Michael Aron. "The electorate won't abide income tax hikes for a majority of residents out there."

Butehorn called the Christie campaign's interpretation of Lonegan's flat tax "an outright lie."

"It's about time the state has a conservative Republican leader with a plan to cuttaxes and reduce spending,"said Butehorn, whose argument for the flat tax hinges onwhat upper and upper middle income earners would be able to inject into the systemunder the provisions ofLonegan's tax plan.

Lonegan's plan would replace the progressive income tax with a flat tax of 2.9%, which would drop to 2.5% by 2011 and to 2.1% in 2012.

Kyrillos objected.

"His plan will raise taxes on a majority of New Jerseyans," he said.

Aron pressed Kyrillos on what Christie would do specifically to significantly cut taxes and reduce spending.

Kyrillos gave an answer that included the line,"Chris has been very specific about what's broken with the state. …We're not talking about electing an economic theorist here."

He later explained.

"Chris is a no-nonsense practical conservative… He wants to return New Jersey to the kind of place Chris Christie grew up in. He's a tough guy who worked to make New Jersey safer from bad guys. If the voters of New Jerseydidn't have Chris Christie, they'd want to invent him."

"I haven't seen the evidence that Chris Christie is a conservative," Butehorn maintained.

Kyrillos repeatedly referred to the rival candidate as Steve "Lonergan," adding an "R" into the name, but gave credit at the end of the program to the former mayor of Bogota's "spirited" campaign efforts.

Flat tax and conservative cred remain chief issues for Kyrillos and Butehorn respectively