A Republican candidate for New Jersey's governor says he refuses to go to a virtual election debate because it "violates his medical freedom."
But the host says the reason for the remote event is largely due to studio renovations making the space unavailable -- not necessarily because of COVID-19.
Atlantic City native Hirsh Singh said on social media that his GOP opponent and NJ PBS -- which is hosting the virtual debate -- are trying to violate his medical freedom by holding next week's deabte online.
An NJ PBS spokeswoman said one of the main reasons it was being held virtually, however, was because the studio is under renovation.
“Our decision to offer a remote debate was based upon several factors, including the reality that the NJ PBS studio space is currently being renovated and unavailable for use," NJ PBS spokeswoman Debra Falk said in a statement.
"From the very start of our planning of this event, it was made clear that this event would be virtual. Both campaigns agreed to these terms."
Singh -- who along with former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli raised nearly $500,000 needed to qualify for the program -- said on Facebook that he would "not comply."
Both debates are sponsored by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission and comprise state legislature that provides matching funds if candidates agree to limit their spending and participate in two debates.
The in-person debate on Tuesday is hosted by NJ 101.5 FM and the virtual debate by NJ PBS is on Wednesday.
NJ PBS apparently told candidates in letters to their campaigns that its debate would be virtual. Guidelines were apparently sent May 3.
Ciattarelli’s campaign bashed Singh over his stance, according to NJ Advance Media.
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