Senate Primary Debate Draws the Press

Cory Booker may have an “unsurmountable” lead in New Jersey’s Democratic Senate primary race, but that didn’t stop his three opponents from doing their best to elbow him at a debate at Montclair State University last night — or a mob of press from showing up.

Rep. Rush Holt talks with the press following August 5 primary debate at Montclair State.

Rep. Rush Holt talks with the press following August 5 primary debate at Montclair State.

Although the TV studio debate, without an audience, was available as a livestream, which reporters could have covered from the comfort of their homes, about 20 showed up in a dance theater rigged out as a press room. In addition to Garden State stalwarts like the Star-Ledger, The Record and NJ Spotlight, representatives from BuzzFeed, USA Today, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal showed up.

They were rewarded by après-debate appearances by all of the candidates save Cory Booker, who was represented by a staff member.

Frank Pallone used the opportunity to question Booker’s relationship with Wall Street and point out that he had taken money from Bain Capital. Holt reinforced his message that he is the true “progressive in the race.” He distinguished himself from other candidates by his stands to stop domestic spying, ban fracking and fight for single-payer health reform.

The 90-minute debate, which ran on NJTV, was moderated by NJ Today host Mike Schneider with help from Record editorial page editor Alfred Doblin.

Here’s some of the coverage:

In Debate, Lesser-Known Candidates Struggle to Shake Booker’s Confidence NY Times
Booker Targets ‘Congress’ in US Senate Debate Appearance Politicker NJ
Democratic Rivals for U.S. Senate Seat Gang Up on Booker During Debate NJ Spotlight
Booker, rivals show few policy disputes in debate USA Today
For 1st time in abbreviated race, 3 other NJ Senate candidates get to meet Booker in debate AP
Much agreement and little discord in Democrats’ U.S. Senate debate The Record
All four Democratic U.S. Senate candidates debate in Montclair Star-Ledger
Friendly Fire at Democratic Senate Candidates’ Debate in N.J. Wall Street Journal
Candidates Make the Case Against Cory Booker BuzzFeed

The event was also heavily tweeted under the hashtag #NJDecides. Here’s our Storify of the peanut gallery commentary.

Photo of Booker and Holt by Joe Sinnott of NJTV. More photos available here.

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