Gov. Pat Quinn and State Sen. Bill Brady stuck to broad campaign themes during their second gubernatorial debate Wednesday, each accusing the other of ethics violations and doing little to create jobs.
In his opening statement Quinn outlined his main themes -- job creation, compassionate governance -- while accusing Brady of "reckless" budget plans and legislating in his own interests. "I've created jobs," Quinn said. "I've brought honesty to the governor's office."
Brady, in retort, accused Quinn of failing to create jobs in Illinois, leading the state into a record $13 billion deficit, and running a "secret" government that isn't accountable to the people.
Throughout the night, the candidates sparred repeatedly on budget issues. Quinn accused Brady of wanting to slash education and, later, the budget of Veteran's Affairs. Quinn repeated that Brady wanted to raise property taxes should he "perish the thought" become governor.
"I've been able to cut the budget more than any gov in Illinois history," said Quinn. "This governor believes in saving money by cutting his own pay."
Brady retorted, saying that Quinn also gave pay raises "to his inner circle staff," and flat out denying he would cut Veteran's Affairs. "Perish the thought that you'd tell the truth," Brady said.
Then came an awkward exchange concerning Brady's social agenda. Brady, asked whether he thought his opposition to abortion rights, gay marriage and gun control, said he didn't use social issues "to divide Illinois." Quinn used the opportunity to try and paint Brady as extreme on social issues, something he's milked in several campaign ads.
The debate then turned to legislative and policy issues. Brady was asked about his signature accomplishments during his 17-year career. Brady touted his votes for teacher health insurance, banking regulation, and securing funds for a local community college.
Quinn was then asked why he deserves to be elected to a full term, to which the governor replied that he inherited President Bush's failed economic policies, and that he's led this state out of a near-Depression.
Several times, Quinn touted that Illinois has had eight straight months of decreased unemployment numbers. On several occasions, Quinn mentioned successful deals site Groupon as proof of his job creation prowess. Brady countered that Illinois is one of eight states still considered to be in recession.
Quinn was asked about an ad he's running that accuses Brady of using his office to support legislation favorable to his real estate deals. Brady denied the report, saying the bills didn't affect his interests. "I'm above that," he said, and then criticized Quinn's "secret" deal with a large state union to prevent layoffs.
The debate then turned to minority issues. Quinn accused Brady several times of failing to attend a campaign forum sponsored by an African-American advocacy group. Brady countered that Quinn's interest is really aligned with union interests.
A bit later, both candidates were asked whether their administration would include Hispanics. Quinn, answering first, said he'd appointed several Hispanics, including Manny Flores. Brady agreed that his administration would represent all Illinoisans.
The debate also ranged to ethics reform. Quinn touted petition and referendum. "The best way is to...propose campaign finance reforms by petition and vote on them by referendum, going around the legislature," Quinn said. Critics, however, have said that very type of reform, which Quinn first got enacted in 1980, is responsible for consolidating power in only a handful of legislators.
Brady countered: "You didn't even have the backbone" to stand up to House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton to get a vote on your own commission's reform package. "You backed down into the corner and were left with nothing," Brady said.
In closing, Brady repeated his key lines: Quinn has failed to create jobs in Illinois, the state is broke, and we need fewer taxes. Quinn responded by saying he has stabilized the government after years of neglect, and that he's the governor with a heart.