When this is all over, don't expect Bruce Rauner to extend Pat Quinn an invitation for a post-election glamping retreat at his gazillion-acre Montana ranch, bottles of Napa Valley Reserve-branded vino in stock and roaming buffalo in the distance.
Like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, these two will never ever ever, like, ever be friends.
Without further ado, this week's mudslinging report:
Quinn vs. Rauner. Convening in Peoria Thursday night for their first official debate-debate—not to be confused with those previous non-debate-debates—the Democratic incumbent and his Republican rival proceeded to rip each other to shreds before a televised audience. As our very own Mary Ann Ahern puts it, "The candidates for governor may have shaken hands, but there was no small talk. These are two men who want the same job—and aren't about to pretend they like each other." The bitter enemies squared off on the minimum wage, an important issue this election cycle and one that has dogged Rauner ever since the September revelation that he once pitched the idea to completely wipe out living wages for low-income workers. "A person taking in $53 million dollars a year, running around Illinois saying, 'Eliminate the minimum wage.' He's adamantly against it," lamented Quinn, to which Rauner responded: "He's had a supermajority of his party in the General Assembly and he has not increased the minimum wage in that period of time." The nastiness continued as a debate moderator asked Rauner about accusations that he sought to influence Chicago's African-American voters by writing a $1 million check to a South Side credit union owner. Defenses up, the coolly professional Rauner argued, "The difference is I'm using my personal money. Pat Quinn has been trying to buy the election using taxpayer money." That was a dig at this week's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative hearings in Springfield, where a lawmaker panel led by crusading GOP state Sen. Jason Barickman called to witness several former Quinn staffers as part of its probe into whether the governor's failed anti-violence program was well intentioned—or a political slush fund to wrangle votes in exchange for state dollars. "I'll never apologize for making sure that we keep families safe," declared Quinn, his presentation more polished than usual (minus the verbal bluster and slovenly body language) . Everything can be boiled down to this: "YOU NO GOOD FOR ILLINOIS. ME GOOD FOR ILLINOIS."
Quinn vs. "GOP Witch Hunt Leaders." And speaking of the NRI trainwreck ... the governor's campaign struck back against Barickman and other GOP members of the Legislative Audit Commission for launching a partisan "witch hunt" to take down Quinn. Blasting the legislators' voting records on hot-button issues like gun control, the Quinns revealed, among other info-nuggets: that Barickman once voted "no" to forming a gang witness protection program and "yes" to concealed carry. Does the senator give a whit about the devastating impact of gun-and-gang violence in crime-ridden urban neighborhoods? Apparently, no. Referencing NRI-related probes by the feds and the state's attorney, he sniped: "Does Governor Quinn really believe that federal and Cook County investigators are also on a witch hunt?"
Durbin vs. Oberweis. It's hard out there for a political candidate with no chance of winning. But Jim Oberweis continues to fight the unwinnable fight. The GOP state senator and dairy mogul has been on Chicago's South Side plying passersby—and possible voters—with ice cream. Shameless! (If anyone spots Oberweis with free containers of the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor, please let me know his coordinates ASAP. Hurry up before it melts!). Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the second most powerful Democrat in the House, remains in a comfortable, 13-point lead over his opponent, whom he's smeared as a tea party sympathizer. A new We Ask America/Reboot Illinois poll has Durbin besting Oberweis 51-38 percent and owning the Windy City vote with a 72 percent majority to Oberweis' 16 percent. Punching upward during a Tuesday speech at the City Club of Chicago, the moneyed Sugar Grove businessman slammed the established politico as a "millionaire career politician" who "presided over one of the worst periods of economic stagnation and decline in Illinois history." The zinger: "If a manager at one of my ice cream stores or one of my mutual funds had that kind of a sorry record, we would have fired him a long time ago." Somewhere Dick Durbin is A) rolling his eyes and B) counting the days 'til Nov. 5, when he won't have an Oberweis all up in his business.