The feisty tone of the Illinois governor's race ratcheted up Tuesday as Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner took personal and nasty jabs during a televised side-by-side newspaper editorial board meeting.
Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, accused the venture capitalist of lying about state pension business, "profiteering" and not taking responsibility for companies he had stake in. But Rauner accused Quinn of cronyism, misleading taxpayers and continuing hiring practices under now imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The tone during the nearly 90-minute debate-style meeting before the Chicago Tribune's editorial board was a clear sign the gloves are off in one of the most competitive governor's races nationwide. Quinn is seeking a second full term. It's Rauner's first run for public office.
Quinn, who's taken heat for allegations of patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation, tried to explain his office's involvement Tuesday by naming former aides who recommended hires, including his onetime chief of staff. He also accused Rauner of essentially bribing lawmakers with campaign donations to vote against a Quinn-supported pension overhaul.
Rauner denied he offered money.
"Did I push hard to oppose that bill? Absolutely," Rauner said. "I thought that bill was a mistake."
He accused Quinn of skirting hiring rules and not advocating enough for term limits. Rauner led a signature-driven effort for term limits and other changes, which courts called unconstitutional. Quinn defended his credentials and past efforts on the issue.
"You avoided the rules, and you got drop kicked by the court," Quinn said.