Incumbent New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine (D) is struggling in the polls, so you’d think he’d want all of the free airtime he can get. But no, he’s the first candidate for Governor in two decades to refuse to show up for a live debate on WKXW-FM Trenton, “New Jersey 101.5.”
The Millennium New Jersey station invited all of the major candidates to debate in the final days leading up to the November election. The station said the Governor was invited in July and that there was no response from his campaign until a letter dated September 9th stated, “With 56 days until Election Day, the Governor’s official responsibilities and his campaign schedule will not afford him this opportunity.” Republican Chris Christie, who has been leading in the polls, and independent Chris Daggett have agreed to debate on New Jersey 101.5.
“Jon Corzine has now become the first candidate for statewide office in almost 20 years to turn his back on our one million listeners by refusing to appear on New Jersey 101.5 to talk directly to New Jersey voters about the issues that are important to them,” said WKXW News Director Eric Scott in a statement on the station website.
Scott noted that Corzine had participated in multiple programs and debates on the station in the past as he ran first for the US Senate and then for Governor.
Corzine has agreed to attend another radio debate, on October 22nd, which will be broadcast by non-commercial WBGO-FM Newark.
What’s the beef with WKXW? “Some political observers suggest the Governor might be concerned he wouldn’t do well in the Millennium Radio debate format – because the candidates are allowed to question each other, and follow up on statements made by their opponents – so he’s decided to skip it,” said a news story posted on the New Jersey 101.5 site.
RBR/TVBR observation: New Jersey politicians complain about the state’s lack of broadcast coverage – and now this. For years New Jersey 101.5 has been one of the very few broadcast outlets offering true New Jersey-centric news for a state whose media is greatly overshadowed by the giant New York and Philadelphia markets.
The Governor is getting some bad press from refusing to attend this debate – not just from New Jersey 101.5, but from the Newark Star-Ledger as well. It hardy seems like smart politics for someone who is trying to stage a comeback.