Lieutenant governor: Who cares?

Polls show Gov. Phil Murphy with a big lead over former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, while Green Party nominee Madelyn Hoffman, Libertarian candidate Gregg Mele, and Socialist Workers Party contender Joanne Kuniansky appear to lack widespread support and almost nobody makes a voting decision based on a candidate for vice president or lieutenant governor, but New Jersey’s two major party candidates for the second spot this year will debate the issues tonight at 7 p.m.

Voters can read statements submitted to the state by each of the various candidates describing their position on the issues.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and Republican Diane B. Allen, a former state senator, will participate in the debate sponsored by the the nonprofit social justice organization Project Read and Rider University’s Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics.

Senator Diane B. Allen and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, the two major party candidates for lieutenant governor, will debate issues tonight.

The debate will be moderated by David Wildstein, the Republican dirty-trickster who masterminded the 2013 shutdown of the George Washington Bridge as political punishment for a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse then-Governor Chris Christie.

Wildstein pled guilty to charges related to the scheme in federal court, but an eventual Supreme Court decision held that abusing power for political purposes is just as legal as certain kinds of bribery, but he now publishes a political news blog backed by Kenneth Kurson, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, a public relations company with close ties to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Jaren Kushner, the son of criminal billionaire Charles Kushner and Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

Kurson, also known as “Jayden Wagner” and “Eddie Train,” was charged by federal prosecutors in October 2020, with interstate cyberstalking and harassing three victims.

The candidates will also field questions from ex- Governor James E. McGreevey’s former press secretary Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University, and Shennell McCloud, the CEO of Project Ready, non-profit organization based in Newark.

Oliver was elected in 2017 with Murphy and is seeking a second term as his lieutenant.

She previously served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2004 to 2018, where she represented the 34th legislative district while also serving as the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly for two terms, from January 12, 2010, to January 14, 2014, as a member of the Democratic Party.

Oliver was born and raised in Newark, where she graduated from Weequahic High School in 1970.

Oliver graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Lincoln University in 1974 in Sociology and was awarded an M.S. from Columbia University in Planning and Administration in 1976.

On May 6, 2018 Oliver, received her Doctor of Humane Letters from her alma mater Lincoln University of Pennsylvania.

While serving on the Board of Education of the East Orange School District from 1994 to 2000, Oliver was elected in 1995 to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, but was defeated for a second term on the board in the June 1999 Democratic primary election after losing a 1997 campaign for mayor in the City of East Orange, where she finished a mere 51 votes to Robert L. Bowser.

As a part of deal to drop incumbent Assemblyman Willis Edwards from the ticket, Oliver became a party-backed candidate in the June 2003 primary election for General Assembly from the 34th District. On November 23, 2009, Oliver was selected to become the 169th Speaker of the Assembly, only the second woman to hold that post.

In 2013, Oliver was an unsuccessful candidate for United States Senate, finishing fourth in the special primary behind Cory Booker, Frank Pallone and Rush Holt.

Allen, who is running with Ciattarelli, is a former journalist and nightly news anchor, who represented the 7th legislative district in the New Jersey Assembly from 1996 to 1998 and New Jersey Senate from 1998 to 2018.

She served as the Senate Majority Whip from 1998 to 2001 and Deputy Republican Conference Leader from 2002 to 2003. She was the Deputy Minority Leader in the N.J. Senate.

In 2002, she was an unsuccessful candidate for United States Senate, finishing second in the Republican primary.

Allen graduated as the valedictorian of the Moorestown High School class of 1966, and in 1969, whe was crowned Miss Burlington County.

Allen received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Bucknell University.

Allen chairs the National Foundation for Women Legislators.

Allen began her broadcast news career in 1970 with WJJZ, an AM radio station based in Mount Holly, then worked at the New Jersey Network before joining an ABC affiliate in Chicago.

In 1976, Allen returned home to cover New Jersey politics for KYW-TV, the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. In 1985, she co-moderated the New Jersey gubernatorial debate between Governor Thomas Kean and Peter Shapiro.

She left the network in 1988 and later won a lawsuit against CBS for discriminatory practices.

In 1989, she joined WCAU, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia, and remained there until 1994.

Voters are casting ballots for Murphy and Oliver together as a ticket or Ciattarelli and Allen together, as well as . The election is Nov. 2, but mail-in ballots are already being returned to county offices. Early in-person voting is set for Oct. 23-31 for the first time this year.

Murphy designated Oliver to lead New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs.

If the Republicans win in November, Allen would be the state’s third lieutenant governor, after Oliver and Republican Kim Guadagno before her.

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