Governor’s ‘Virtual Debate’ To Begin Next Week

TRENTON – The Hall Institute’s 2009 Governor’s virtual debate will begin next week with opening statements from the candidates on Thursday, Sept. 10.

To date, Gov. Jon Corzine, Republican challenger Chris Christie, and independents Chris Daggett, Joshua Leindorf and Kostas Petris have agreed to participate in the online exchange, which will take place on the Hall Institute website.

“Since our inception four years ago, the Hall Institute has provided voters with substantive information about where the candidates stand on the major issues confronting our state,” said Hall Institute Communications Director Richard Lee, who is overseeing the project.

“The 2009 race for governor is a critical election for New Jersey,” Lee said. “Our goal is to provide citizens with a platform to sort out ideas to help them make informed, educated choices when they go the polls.”

Next week’s opening statements will be followed by the candidates’ responses to six weekly questions on New Jersey issues. The online exchange will conclude on Oct. 29 with the candidates’ closing statements. In addition to the weekly questions, the institute will be using its Twitter page to ask the candidates about new and topical issues as they develop during the campaign.

The virtual debate is one of several Hall Institute initiatives involving the governor’s race; the others are:

• Over the summer, the organization asked public policy experts to identify priorities for whomever wins the election in November. The responses were used to formulate the debate questions.

• Since April, the Hall Institute has been hosting a weekly internet radio program on the governor’s race. The programs are archived online as podcasts on BlogTalkRadio. The shows will continue through Election Day.

• The institute is partnering with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey to present a panel discussion on environmental issues in the governor’s race on Sept. 22.

• The organization also is part of a consortium that has been selected by the N.J. Election Law Enforcement Commission to sponsor a debate among the candidates for lieutenant governor. The debate, which will be preceded by panel discussions on the lieutenant governor position, will take place on Oct. 8 at Monmouth University.

The Hall Institute initiated its virtual debate series during New Jersey’s 2006 U.S. Senate race and replicated the project for last year’s U.S. Senate campaign. The major party candidates participated in both virtual debates.

The institute also played an active role in the historic 2008 presidential election by utilizing public forums, focus groups, television and other tools to determine New Jerseyans’ priorities in the national contest. The input was used to draft an open letter to the presidential candidates, seeking their positions on the issues of greatest importance to New Jersey. Barack Obama was among the presidential candidates who responded.

The Hall Institute is a non-partisan, not-for-profit foundation that explores social, economic, educational and cultural issues.

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