Guadagno, Murphy square off in first NJ governor debate

Phil Murphy and Jim Johnson during a Democratic primary debate. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

There was plenty of sparring at the first New Jersey gubernatorial debate, especially over property taxes.

"The inconvenient truth for Phil is Chris Christie is not on the ballot in November, I am", Guadagno said in response to Murphy connecting the Christie administration's raising of transportation fares to Guadagno.

However, following Tuesday night's debate, Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno is now calling for an additional two more debates with Democrat opponent Phil Murphy in the race to succeed Governor Chris Christie.

The event begins at 7 p.m.at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

According to an October 3 Monmouth University poll, almost half of the likely voters - 44 percent - don't have an opinion on either candidate.

Guadagno frequently depicted Murphy's plans to fund projects as unrealistic, but the most compelling critique came from the moderator Jim Gardner when he asked Murphy plainly for specifics on how he would fund the pension program.

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Murphy, 60, of Middletown, Monmouth County, declared that the "Christie-Guadagno administration" had undermined trust in state government: from public employees who have been "vilified" and ratings agencies that have downgraded New Jersey's bond rating.

Each candidate sought the moral high ground.

"The reason why our unemployment is so low, everybody's is lower, is because we're at a 10 year low of labor market participation", Murphy said.

But his Republican opponent Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has called him a "coward" for failing address the Weinstein scandal until after her campaign raised the issue on Tuesday.

Weinstein, an Oscar-winning producer and Democratic mega-donor, has faced explosive allegations of decades of sexual misconduct over the past week, leading numerous Democrats to denounce him and return his contributions.

"I didn't ask for and I didn't get one dime from this guy", Murphy said, referring to his own campaign. Be sure to read NJBIZ's recap of the second debate.

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