SOMERSET HILLS NJ - The first gubernatorial debates of the 2017 primary election will take place tonight at Stockton University. They will be televised live on News 12 New Jersey and Telemundo, and they will be streamed live on the Stockton University Facebook page.
The debates are sponsored by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy of Stockton University.
The Republican Party candidates will begin at 6:30 PM. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, the Republican front runner, will debate Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. Guadagno has enjoyed a lead throughout the campaign, but polling indicates that the race has tightened in recent weeks. Three other Republican candidates - Hirsh Singh, Joe Rullo and Steve Rogers - did not qualify for the debates.
The Democrat Party candidates will square off at 9:00 PM. Former Ambassador and Goldman Sachs partner Phil Murphy is the apparent Democrat front runner. Murphy will square off with three other Democrat hopefuls - businessman Jim Johnson, State Senator Ray Lesniak and Assemblyman John Wisniewski. The Quinnipiac poll shows Murphy with a 19 point lead over his nearest rival, Mr. Johnson.
Candidates will answer questions submitted by the public and screened by the moderators, and will be given the opportunity to give opening and closing statements.