The final debate between incumbent congressman Donald Norcross and primary challenger Alex Law has been cancelled. The event was scheduled for Thursday night, but personal conflict between Law and the Gloucester County NAACP led organizer Loretta Winters to call off the debate. An organizer with the Jewish Community Relations Council of South Jersey told PolitickerNJ that the debate is unlikely to be rescheduled before the primary next week.
Winters told NJ Pen that she felt hassled by Law’s repeated calls for booking a larger venue, streaming the event live and offering tickets to the public, saying the she felt personally “disrespected.”
Law had criticized the choice of venue on his Facebook page on Wednesday. The 25 year-old progressive is mounting a massively outspent primary campaign against Norcross, raising just $70,000 to the congressman’s $1.5 million. The two debated before a crowd of businessmen and Camden County pols at a debate hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey earlier this week.
“Despite my best efforts (I had arranged a venue with up to 2,000 seats), Loretta Winters of the Gloucester County NAACP insisted on a tiny venue with no tickets available to the public,” Law wrote. “If you want to see the debate, this stream is the only way to do it!”
Winters characterized that post as a personal attack, and effectively cancelled the event by declining to serve as a co-host at all.
“I wanted it at the college because I wanted the youth there,” Winters said of Law’s objections. “I don’t know of a 2,000-seat arena in Camden or Gloucester County.”
Law unloaded on Winters late Wednesday night, alleging that Winters had tried to limit media access to the debate.
“Her firm position was that there should be no audio or visual recording of the debate,” Law wrote. “I found this to be entirely unacceptable so we passionately pushed back. We argued that you CANNOT HAVE A DEBATE WITH NO TICKETS FOR THE PUBLIC AND NO AUDIO/VISUAL RECORDING. She countered by essentially telling us to pound sand.”
Norcross issued a statement Thursday morning, saying he was dismayed at the outcome.
“Congressman Norcross is disappointed that today’s event has been canceled as he enjoyed the previous meetings he had with his challengers. Under the circumstances, he respects the decision. The NAACP, JCRC, and Islamic Center of South Jersey would have certainly hosted an outstanding debate, and he looks forward to appearing at their debate during the general election.”