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Save Jersey editor Matt Rooney

Gibbs, Richter spar over debate ducking charges

Rooney: “I don’t think either candidate is dodging debate’

By David Wildstein, May 29 2020 12:57 pm

Kate Gibbs has accused David Richter of ducking a debate in New Jersey’s 3rd district GOP congressional primary, but the organizer of the debate still hopes the two will work out details before the July 7 primary election.

“Unfortunately, it appears that David Richter has turned down Kate’s challenge to conduct two virtual debates,” said Angelo Lamberto, Gibbs’ campaign manager.  “We offered two virtual debates, with two professional moderators, and a complete willingness to work with the Richter campaign to create a format that was both engaging and informative in light of the current circumstances.”

Richter’s campaign manager, Tom Bonforti, says that Gibbs “never wanted a real debate.”

“Just to be clear, it was the Gibbs campaign that walked away from debate negotiations, not our campaign,” Bonforti said.

Save Jersey editor Matt Rooney, who was expected to moderate the Gibbs vs. Richter debate, said that he believed discussions were ongoing as of this morning.

“It’s true that the campaigns are deadlocked over the debate format. At this point, I don’t think either candidate is dodging debates,” Rooney told the New Jersey Globe.  “It’s my hope that both David and Kate will continue to work with me to give NJ-3 Republican voters the debate they deserve.”

The primary to pick an opponent for freshman Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) has been the nastiest primary in the state for the last two months, since Richter jumped from his primary challenge to Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) to a bid to unseat Kim.

Before that, Gibbs appeared to have cleared the field for the Republican nomination.

“As with most things, it appears, when David Richter doesn’t get his way, he petulantly takes his ball and goes home,” Lamberto said.  “Wherever he considers home to be that day, of course. His entitled, arrogant, spoiled rich kid approach to almost everything in life is telling and his insistence on an in-person debate that no TV station would televise and few, if any people, would attend is just plain bizarre.”

Bonforti said that he responded to a text message request from Rooney this morning in a bid to get the debate on track.  Gibbs’ debate press release came out 40 minutes later.

“At no point did anyone from the Richter campaign end negotiations,” he said.  “Ultimately, it is disappointing but hardly surprising that Kate continues to run a campaign based on lies and misrepresentations to the voters.”

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