‘Trailblazing’ lieutenant governor candidates meet for debate at Rider University

The candidates for New Jersey’s lieutenant governor debated Tuesday night at Rider University. Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver faced Republican former state Sen. Diane Allen.
“They are two trailblazing women in New Jersey politics,” says Rider University political science professor Micah Rasmussen.
Rasmussen was one of the questioners for the debate. He says that both nominees are women who have shattered the glass ceiling and broken barriers.
“They are two women who have made some of the strides that women in politics are so proud of in the state,” Rasmussen says.
Oliver, a Newark native, has served in public office for nearly 30 years. She was the first Black female state Assembly speaker and the first Black woman to be elected to statewide office.
Oliver has stepped in as acting governor several times over the past few years. Most critically in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when Gov. Phil Murphy was recovering from cancer surgery.
“She was the point person. She was the person who was filling in for the governor. He had essentially turned day-to-day control of state government over to her,” Rasmussen says.
Allen spent many years as a TV anchorwoman in Philadelphia before she was replaced for a younger female anchor. She sued for sexism and age discrimination and set a precedent. She then went on to service five terms in the state Senate. The state law mandating equal pay in public jobs, which Gov. Murphy signed, is named for Allen.
“You really could not have done better if you’re Jack Ciattarelli in having her as a running mate,” Rasmussen says.
He says that the running mates may play a key part in who is elected as New Jersey’s governor in November.
“In both cases, you have white men who are running for governor, and you bring a different set of perspectives to the table. You bring a trusted adviser to the table who is female, who is a minority who has legislative experience,” Rasmussen says.
Murphy and Ciattarelli have their second and final debate on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at Rowan University in Glassboro.