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NJ Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off in First Debate [VIDEO/AUDIO/POLL]

The two candidates for Governor in New Jersey had the first of two debate showdowns on Tuesday night at William Paterson University. Watch a full replay of the debate here.

Senator Barbara Buono (D) and Governor Chris Christie (R) debate at William Paterson University
Senator Barbara Buono (D) and Governor Chris Christie (R) debate at William Paterson University (Facebook)

The Democratic challenger, State Senator Barbara Buono, who’s way behind in the polls, stressed that there are 400,000 people looking for work in the Garden State, and “people are just beginning to focus on the race.”

“What the people in New Jersey want is someone who’s real and will tell them the truth – as he sees it – and that’s what I’ve done for 4 years,” Governor Chris Christie said. “I’ve looked them in the eye and told them the truth. Using direct and blunt language is something I’ve done my whole life – that’s the way my mother raised me.”

On the issue of same sex marriage Christie said people of good will have differences of opinion.

“The institution of marriage for 2,000 years has been between a man and a woman, and if we’re going to change that core definition of marriage, I don’t think that should be decided by 121 politicians in Trenton, or seven judges on the Supreme Court.”

Buono responded by saying “it’s a human right.”

“I mean Governor, show a profile in courage and do the right thing for our sons and our daughters,” she urged.

Barbara Buono and Chris Christie at first gubernatorial debate at William Paterson University in Wayne
Barbara Buono and Chris Christie at first gubernatorial debate at William Paterson University in Wayne (WCBS TV)

During the debate the Governor stressed the fact that he inherited a terrible fiscal situation and that he’s already done a lot to get property taxes under control. Christie said moving forward we have to give towns “civil service reform so they can consolidate and share more services across municipal and county lines, and secondly is to make sure we end this abuse of sick pay.”

Buono told the audience Christie has made state history.

“He had the largest cut in property tax relief in state history – property taxes rose on average 20 percent and in other places more,” she said.

Christie closed by defending his first term in office.

“For four years I’ve been myself to the people of New Jersey. I’ve told them the truth about the problems we had, making sure we have the most education funding ever and reaching across the isle in a bipartisan way to bring solutions. What I promise you if you give me another 4 years is I will be myself, I will tell you the truth, I will work as hard as I can because there’s no greater privilege I could ever ask for in my life.”

Buono concluded by telling the audience she’s been able to live the American dream because of her parents hard work, and she’s fighting for a better tomorrow. ”

“It’s time to put New Jersey first, to bring good jobs back to New Jersey and put New Jersey first. I’m going to be the kind of Governor who will do that. I will lift up the middle class.”

Another debate takes place next week.

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Top 5 Debate Moments

  1. The candidates disagreed on many issues, including same-sex marriage: 

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  2. Both candidates were asked about how to best keep taxes under control: 

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  3. Christie and Buono answered questions about Jersey’s lagging state economy: 

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  4. The two had dramatically different answers when asked to name something they like about the other: 

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