Republican state Senate candidate Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, fresh off a primary win  Tuesday, wants to start the traditional debate season early this year.

Adelizzi-Schmidt, who is challenging 1st District incumbent Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, in the November election, on Wednesday called for a rare summer debate.

“I was encouraged to see that Jeff was willing to debate the issues with me, and I hope he agrees to my proposal for a debate this summer. While I recognize that a summer debate would be a break from the norm, it also represents what I want my campaign to be all about — an end to business as usual,” said Adelizzi-Schmidt, who runs her own small business, Suasion Communications Group.

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After winning an uncontested Democratic primary Tuesday, Van Drew had said he was looking forward to debating the issues. His statement was cited by Adelizzi-Schmidt on Wednesday in calling for a debate right away.

Van Drew on Wednesday made it clear that it would have to wait until the fall. As the only senator from the region on the state Budget Committee, Van Drew said, he is deeply involved in that work until July and by then most people are working long days as the shore tourism industry is in full swing. He said a summer debate would turn into “an insider game” for politicians. A veteran of many political races, Van Drew said he will spend the summer campaigning.

“It’s the time to knock on doors and stand in front of supermarkets, and I suggest she do the same. When it comes to the fall, I’ll commit to doing more than one,” Van Drew said.

Adelizzi-Schmidt, who is trying to unseat the long-time incumbent, figures why wait until fall.

She said the two campaigns should be able to settle on a format, moderator and location for a summer debate. She said it would not eliminate traditional fall candidate forums.

Adelizzi-Schmidt is a political newcomer who seeks to become the first woman to represent the 1st District in the Senate or Assembly.

Van Drew is a long-time incumbent who has spent 11 years in the Legislature after serving as a Cape May County freeholder and Dennis Township mayor. His first political office was a fire commission seat in Dennis Township.

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