NJ Spotlight will co-host with NJTV two state-sanctioned debates for New Jersey’s gubernatorial primary in June, with the Democratic debate to be held on May 11 and the Republican on May 18.
The dates and formats were finalized this week, including that NJTV political correspondent Michael Aron will serve as the primary moderator in each of the debates. Both will be held at NJTV’s studio in Newark.
Four candidates will participate in the Democratic debate and two in the Republican, all of whom qualified for matching funds with the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission.
The four Democrats are former U.S. Ambassador Phil Murphy, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, and former U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Jim Johnson. The two Republicans are Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.
Given the differing number of candidates, the Democratic debate will be 90 minutes and the Republican 60 minutes.
The formats are consistent with previous debates hosted by NJTV. For example, each candidate will have 60 seconds to answer questions from the moderator, and the other candidates will have 30 seconds to respond. There will be no opening statements, but each candidate will be afforded a closing statement.
Every candidate will also have an opportunity to pose at least one specific question to another candidate.
The debates will also have a distinctly online component, with the debates broadcast live on Facebook Live on NJ Spotlight’s and NJTV’s websites. NJ Spotlight plans to reach out to Facebook communities across the state to engage in discussion before, during, and after the debate.
NJ Spotlight founding editor John Mooney will monitor the discussion online and provide any pertinent questions for candidates during the debate. In addition, NJTV correspondent David Cruz will take questions from the live audience at the Newark studio. An equal number of tickets will be made available to each candidate’s campaigns, as well as to NJTV and NJ Spotlight.