The dozen best lines of the (more cordial) debate

There weren’t a lot of fireworks, but both candidates made their points — and had some zingers

We don’t dip our toes into political reporting all that often. Usually, it only pertains to business issues — and how elected officials intend to address them.

But, since Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli rarely brought up business issues — for the second straight debate — we’ve decided to highlight the best lines of the hourlong event from Rowan University.

So here they are, presented in order of delivery.

  1. Murphy: “Nice try.”

Short and simple. It came after Ciattarelli had a hard-to-follow, short-on-details attempt to place Murphy at an unnamed recent indoor gathering without a mask.

  1. Ciattarelli: “He increased the budget by $11 billion. If he had cut everybody’s property taxes in half, I wouldn’t have run for governor, I would have endorsed you.”

Good line that made people chuckle and spelled out a difference in philosophy.

  1. Ciattarelli: “In his four years in office, he has not approved a single charter school for the city of Newark where a majority of the residents want charter schools.”

Murphy’s only response was his “forward versus backward” refrain.

  1. Murphy: “We’ve got to get away from this Trump, ‘us vs. them’ stuff, we’re all in this state together.”

Murphy doesn’t duck the issue of helping undocumented immigrants. He embraced it.

  1. Ciattarelli: “I remember the Democratic presidential primary last year. Kamala Harris didn’t have many complimentary things to say about Joe Biden.”

Ciattarelli offers a solid response to why he has flip-flopped on his statements regarding Trump.

  1. Murphy: “That’s not like one or two.”

Good line by an incredulous Murphy after being asked why he hadn’t pardoned low-level drug offenses, after saying he had expunged 362,000 offenses.

  1. Ciattarelli: “The reason why this bill hasn’t been sent to his desk by a Legislature that is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats is because they know it’s a bad bill.”

Good line by Ciattarelli after Murphy failed to answer why the Reproductive Freedom Act he frequently touts has yet to have even a committee hearing by the Legislature.

  1. Murphy: “If you don’t know how to answer the question, it’s hard to believe that you can govern the place.”

The governor with solid reference to Ciattarelli’s weak response on “white preference” in the first debate. Ciattarelli handled question better in this debate.

  1. Murphy: “Who’s endorsed you?”

The governor, showing he’s best when he’s in a skirmish, blurted out this gem when Ciattarelli attempted to draw distinctions about which police unions have endorsed the governor.

  1. Ciattarelli: “I promise you this: When I take office in January, I will not blame the Murphy administration for anything.”

Perhaps Ciattarelli’s best line. It came after saying the governor consistently blames former Gov. Chris Christie or former President Donald Trump for problems.

  1. Ciattarelli: “3,000 units are going up in the middle of a town where there are no jobs, there is no mass transit and there’s one highway, one lane in each direction, 206, which is jammed.”

This wins for bizarre comment of the night. In an effort to explain why Mount Laurel affordable housing decisions are not just, Ciattarelli rips apart his own hometown, Hillsborough, which he calls a “52-square-mile former cow pasture.” In the words of candidate Ciattarelli: Who says that?

  1. Murphy: “C’mon guys.”

Classy way to end what was the more cordial of the two events. Murphy got on his own supporters when they interrupted Ciattarelli’s closing statement.