Republican and Democrat candidates debated for the first time last Tuesday October 8, 2013, as part of a measure to reach out to New Jersey voters, for the governor’s position in the state. Republican contender Chris Christie is the incumbent governor. The Democrat challenger is State Senator Barbara Buono.
The two candidates show their differences
The debate displayed the stark difference between the two candidates. Gov Chris Christie sounded confident of a victory, while State Senator Barbara Buono fumbled to make an impression. Incidentally, Mr. Christie is trying for a presidential nomination from the Republican party.
Ms. Buono did score a few brownie points in the debate held at the William Paterson University. As a response to a question asked by a journalist about the reason of the slow economic recovery of New Jersey post recession, with high unemployment, low personal income and revenues, Mr. Christie replied that this mess was due to his inept predecessors. Ms. Buono replied that since the governor has been in office for four years, it is equally his responsibility and that he should not blame others.
The debate brought into focus the blunt differences between the two candidates. The present governor repeated his support for the use of school vouchers. Ms. Buono countered it by saying that the vouchers would subvert the activities of public schools. Mr. Christie is firmly against gay marriage and vetoed a bill that would have permitted it; he is challenging a decision by a trial court that says the state must permit gay marriage, reasserting his stand that voters should resolve the issue by a referendum. Ms. Buono, an active supporter of gay marriage, accused the governor of compromising gay rights to maintain his electoral attraction among conservative voters.
The issue of tax
The incumbent governor tried to make a link between Ms. Buono and the previous governor Jon Corzine, saying that the State Senator has taken part in increasing fees and taxes when she was a member of the legislature. Ms. Buono replied that Mr. Christie’s decision to cut property tax has hit middle class families hard. The Democratic contender reminded the audience that the present governor had increased tolls and fares on roads and public state transportation. She accused him of protecting millionaires at the expense of the working poor and middle class.
The personality of Mr. Christie was also brought into focus during the debate. A panelist questioned him about the almost slang words he uses to describe individuals holding different opinions than him. The governor countered the observation, saying that he speaks the truth and that he is not going to change.