Wednesday’s debate planned by NJ PBS between Jack Ciattarelli and Hirsh Singh, two Republican candidates for governor, has been canceled.
NJ PBS worked with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission to provide one of the two public debates mandated by the state’s public financing laws.
Both the Ciattarelli and Singh campaigns, as well as the state’s Republican Party, agreed to the date, time and all of the terms of that debate, including the fact that the candidates and moderators would appear virtually.
Wednesday’s debate was to have been produced, broadcast and streamed live. The decision to hold the debate virtually was made before the latest changes in COVID-19 requirements by the state or federal government; another factor in that decision was that the NJ PBS studio has been undergoing a renovation and is not available.
Singh, after originally agreeing to all of the terms of the debate, objected last week to the virtual format and to the production rules NJ PBS required for COVID-19 testing once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its indoor and outdoor federal mask guidance. NJ PBS offered the opportunity for a neutral, third party to provide a venue and funding for a live in-person debate as long as all parties involved agreed. A third party came forward, but that party had made contributions to a county Republican organization. That did not meet NJ PBS standards for being a neutral third party. Also, Singh refused the mandatory COVID-19 test.
“NJ PBS was proud to be asked by ELEC to host one of this year’s Gubernatorial Primary Republican debates and has been actively communicating with the Ciattarelli and Singh campaigns about the details, including rules and logistics, with the goal of providing New Jersey with a live, virtual, primetime debate,” NJ PBS said in a statement.
For the full statement: NJ PBS Cancels Gubernatorial Primary Republican Debate — NJ PBS Pressroom (njtvonline.org)