By Tori Pender
Rider will host New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor debate between current Democrat Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and her challenger Republican Diane Allen on Oct. 5 in Lynch Adler room 202.
This event will be hosted by the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics, with its Director and Rider political science professor Micah Rasmussen as one of the panelists.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and his opponent Republican Jack Ciattarelli will go head to head in two debates. The first debate was held on Sept. 28 at the Performing Arts Center in Newark and the other will be held at 8 p.m. on Oct. 12 at Rowan University in Glassboro. While their running mates, the Lieutenant Governors, will only engage in debate once.
According to AP News, “The debates were expected because they’re required under law when candidates receive public matching funds, as both Murphy and Ciattarelli are this year.”
The last time an official debate was held on Rider’s campus was Oct. 17, 2012, for New Jersey’s 12 Congressional District between Representative Rush Holt (D) and Eric Beck (R).
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission awarded Rider the Lieutenant Governor’s debate because of the innovative ideas that the Rebovich Institute proposed in partnership with the New Jersey Globe, a political news site devoted to New Jersey politics and Project Ready, a social justice advocacy organization.
Rasmussen explained, “Including extending the audience beyond traditional debate viewers by breaking it up into smaller segments for targeted social media promotion to interested groups across the state. Given the current state of the pandemic, we also proposed foregoing a live debate audience, except for student observers.”
Oliver, the current lieutenant governor, is the first Black woman to serve in this role. Oliver grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and resides in East Orange. In 2010 she was the first Black Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly through 2014. Oliver also previously served the 34 Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly.
Allen is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. She grew up in Moorestown, New Jersey, and resides in Edgewater Park Township. Allen served as a Member of the New Jersey Senate from the 7th district from 1998 through 2018.
Allen was a television anchorwoman for KYW, the Philadelphia affiliate of CBS and WCAU, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia. Allen is now the President of VidComm, Inc., a media production company she founded after her broadcasting career ended.
Rasmussen explained, “We are also fortunate to be working with several filmmaking, TV and radio majors and their advisor, Scott Alboum.”
The students will provide camera work as well as other communications support.
Rasmussen continued, “And because it takes a village, we are also working closely with Dayne Lewis and Jonathan Jones of Rider’s Office of Information Technology, who will provide technical support for the production, which will be live-streamed via New Jersey Globe, Facebook Live, Twitter and LinkedIn and broadcast on WOND and WABC radio.”
Rasmussen is grateful for having a great team to support the inner workings of the debate.
Students will also have the opportunity to propose questions as well as speak directly to candidates after the debate.
“I think the debate will bring to the state is, the chance to try some new ideas and learn from them, to figure out how to grow the state’s public debates into a modern voter education tool,” said Rasmussen. “We’re very grateful to the members of the Election Law Enforcement Commission for the opportunity to mix it up and see what we can learn.”
It is Rebovich’s mission for students to be able to closely interact with New Jersey’s state public officials.
“I’m also excited that our students will be able to closely interact with our state’s public officials, which is part of what is so essential to the Rebovich mission,” said Rasmussen.