When William Palatucci and Bonnie Watson Coleman, the chairs for the Christie and Buono election campaigns respectively, joined New Jersey Chamber of Commerce members for breakfast this morning, their conversation sounded exactly how one would expect it would less than three weeks before the gubernatorial election. Lively, pointed, and sometimes tense.
Gov. Chris Christie has won the confidence of business leaders and ordinary New Jerseyans alike by adopting sound economic policies and winning groundbreaking reform in tandem with the Legislature's Democratic majority, Palatucci said. Gov. Christie would continue that path in a second term, including revisiting a proposed across-the-board income tax reduction, he added.
Watson Coleman, meanwhile, said New Jersey's economy continues to struggle with high unemployment and foreclosure rates. Sen. Barbara Buono would attack the problem "from the middle out and the bottom up" by offering stronger incentives to small businesses and more job training for workers, she said.
The Campaign Chairs Were in Full Election Mode
"The Christie administration followed eight to ten years of failed fiscal policy that (drove) New Jersey to the brink," Palatucci said. "We were about to be Greece or Portugal."
Palatucci ticked off accomplishments of the Christie administration, including the Rutgers-UMDNJ merger, education reform, pension and benefits reform and a property tax cap.
Watson Coleman countered Palatucci's assertion that New Jersey Democrats are responsible for New Jersey's economic difficulties. She said New Jersey's struggling economy was a byproduct of a "global meltdown that we had to scratch our way out of."
She said Buono's economic growth plan focuses on growing small businesses - especially in advanced fields such as biotechnology and life sciences - by offering them more tax subsidies, while reducing subsidies for large companies. A Buono administration would support women- and minority-owned businesses with increased state aid and preferences for public contracts, she said.
Buono also would tap county colleges and vocational schools to train and retrain workers for jobs in emerging fields, Watson Coleman added. In order to keep college-bound students in New Jersey and maintain the state's workforce, her plan calls for keeping tuition affordable through scholarships.
"If you like the governor's first term, you are going to like the governor's second term," Palatucci said. In the next four years, Palatucci said, Christie would revisit an across-the-board income tax cut - a proposal that did not gain traction in this term - to make New Jersey's business climate more appealing than the climate in states like Connecticut and New York.
Election Day is Nov. 5.
A special thank you to Princeton Public Affairs Group and Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer for sponsoring the event.
For photos from the event, click here.