I realize very few people probably watched last night’s debate between Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy, but I figured if one of them is going to be our next governor, I should at least see if they could speak. The debate, like most political debates now, was more of an alternating exchange of talking points. I lost count of how many times Kim Guadagno said “property taxes” and how many times Phil Murphy invoked the name of Chris Christie.

I do have to agree with Mr. Murphy on one thing; if Lt. Governor Guadagno has a $1.5 billion plan to reduce property taxes, why didn’t she implement over the past eight years? For his part, Mr. Murphy had a lot of ideas for what is needed to turn the state around: fully fund the pension system, increase school funding, and set up innovation incubators, but when pressed, did not give a clear answer on how any of this is going to be paid for. His $1.3 billion tax increase is just a fraction of what would be needed to fund even one of those ideas; the rest, it seems, will rest on “growing the economy”.

I’ll probably watch the second (and final) debate next week, but I think these exercises in theater tend to play more to their political bases than to convince undecided voters.

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