Gubernatorial Candidate Renews Call for NJ’s Guadagno to Debate

The lieutenant governor says she is 'eager' to debate

1. The gubernatorial primaries. Both Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey seem to be gearing up for messy primary battles in 2017. While many of the Democratic side have already pledged allegiance to former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, Assemblyman John Wisniewski does not seem to be backing down from his own candidacy. Also on the Democratic side, state Senator Ray Lesniak appears to be positioning to officially enter the race after much waffling on the issue in recent months.  The Republican side of the race features a wide cast of characters including Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (pictured), Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, comedian Joe Piscopo, Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers and grassroots candidate Joe Rullo. While only three of those have declared (Rogers, Rullo and Ciattarelli), the others are all actively getting a feel for the field as well.

Kim Gudagno says she fully intends to debate ahead of the GOP primary. Alyana Alfaro for Observer

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, one of the contenders in the June Republican gubernatorial primary, has renewed his challenge to debate Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno 21 times in all of New Jersey’s counties ahead of that election. On Thursday, Ciattarelli issued a letter to Guadagno and launched a website counting down the days she has been “silent” since his initial January 18 debate challenge.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. Max Pizarro/Observer

“Whether five or 500 debate attendees, the New Jersey Republican Party deserves the most serious, transparent and viable candidate in order to win this November’s gubernatorial election,” Ciattarelli’s letter said.

According to Guadagno spokesman Ricky Diaz, the lieutenant governor “fully intends to debate” in the coming months. Diaz did not comment on how many debates Guadagno would participate in. According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) rules, in order to receive matching funds for a primary, a candidate must participate in two debates.

After the primary, the Republican candidate will face off against the Democratic primary winner. The current favorite in that race is Former Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy. In his letter, Ciattarelli said that 21 debates are needed so that “Republicans in every corner of our state can hear substantive discussion and judge for themselves who is best to lead our party and beat Wall Street’s Phil Murphy.”

According to Diaz, Guadagno’s participation in debates will be an important way for her to interface with voters.

“We have said numerous times that unlike Phil Murphy who wants to buy every vote, Kim Guadagno intends to earn every vote and she fully intends to debate. Not only does the public financing law require it, she is eager to participate in debates,” Diaz said.

The primary will be held in June.

Gubernatorial Candidate Renews Call for NJ’s Guadagno to Debate