WASHINGTON – In January, shock jock Craig Carton (search) caused an uproar by insulting the acting governor's wife. More recently, he took aim at Asian-Americans.
On Thursday, the radio personality turned on his serious side to host a live, two-hour debate among five Republicans running for governor of New Jersey.
"Hopefully people know that at times we have the ability to be serious and straight and at other times, when it warrants it, to have a good time and not be so straight," Carton said during a commercial break at the end of the debate at WKXW-FM's studio in Ewing.
Carton and co-host Ray Rossi made headlines in January over comments about first lady Mary Jo Codey's (search) well-publicized battle with mental illness. Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey (search) confronted Carton in a studio hallway, and the two nearly came to blows. The station later agreed to run free public service ads promoting mental health to quell its growing chorus of critics.
Last month, the same co-hosts criticized Asian-Americans, beginning with Edison mayoral candidate Jun Choi, a Korean-American.
On the air, Carton said no minority group should dictate the outcome of an American election, even in Edison, with its burgeoning Asian-American population. Carton delivered portions of his statements in mock-Asian accent, and his comments prompted calls for a boycott of the program's sponsors and demands that the DJs be fired.
Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson said the candidates who participated recognize the hosts' right to free speech, even though they don't agree with what was said.
There was no mention of Carton's perceived racial insensitivity, and no inane questions, though Carton acknowledged the possibility by promising at one point not to ask the men whether they preferred boxers or briefs.
The questions, in fact, spanned a wide spectrum of topics on the minds of New Jersey voters, from property and gas taxes to schools and pensions.
A crowded field of Republicans, including front-runners Doug Forrester (search) and Bret Schundler (search), are seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination this year. Sen. Jon Corzine (search) is running on the Democratic side.
Codey, who is not running, became acting governor when former Gov. James McGreevey (search) resigned after announcing that he had a gay affair.