By Jamey Dunn
In their last televised face-off before the election, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican challenger, state Sen. Bill Brady, tore into each other but failed to cover much new ground.
Last night’s event, which was broadcast by WTTW Chicago Public Media, was a more loosely structured forum, as opposed to a formal debate. The candidates did not face time limits or make opening statements. The more lax format resulted in Brady and Quinn arguing, interrupting each other and sometimes outright sniping while trying to get in the last word before moderator Carol Marin cut them off.
The two candidates bickered over the possibility of borrowing $4 billion to make the state’s required pension payment for the current fiscal year. The Senate plans to return to Springfield on November 4 to vote on a borrowing bill, which the House narrowly approved last May.
Brady said Quinn should look for other ways to make the payment and is borrowing because “he’s not willing to face up to the tough decisions that a governor must make.” Brady added that he would do “everything [he] can” to oppose the borrowing. Quinn accused him of working behind the scenes in block the bill last spring.
Quinn said the state must make the pension payment, and — given the dire financial straits he inherited — borrowing is the way to go. “Our problems did not begin the day I lifted my hand off the Bible when I got sworn in.” He called Brady’s budget plans “irresponsible,” “reckless” and “wrong.” Meanwhile, Brady criticized Quinn for borrowing money without a dedicated funding source to pay it back.
Brady addressed recent media reports that his campaign failed to pay for airtime for its ads. He says the campaign made a “tactical” change and there was a “glitch” in payment, which has since been corrected. Quinn said the failure to pay spoke to Brady’s management skills.
When the conversation turned to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, Brady said he had no intentions of creating a “hostile” environment for the LGBT community. However, he stuck by his stance that the law should define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Quinn went after him on social issues saying: “The governor should be tolerant. …You haven’t been tolerant.”
When asked if he had any regrets, Quinn said he had been disappointed with the political climate after he was sworn into office. He said he “thought Illinois would have a bipartisan moment to really do hard things.”
Brady said he regretted sponsoring a bill early in his run that would allow for the mass euthanasia of cats and dogs, after Marin directly asked him about the legislation. He has taken political fire over the measure and quickly removed his name from the bill after it made news.