Democratic Candidates for Illinois Governor Face Off in First Televised Forum - NBC Chicago
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Democratic Candidates for Illinois Governor Face Off in First Televised Forum

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    Democratic Candidates for Illinois Governor Face Off in First Televised Forum

    All six candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor squared off Tuesday night in the first televised forum of the campaign. Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018)

    All six candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor squared off Tuesday night in the first televised forum of the campaign.

    The hourlong event grew heated at times, covering several of the most pressing issues facing Illinois and even some of the controversies surrounding the candidates. 

    Perceived front runner JB Pritzker directly named Daniel Biss five times in the one hour forum. So, the question is -- has Biss surpassed Kennedy as the one Pritzker fears the most? Candidates argued over whether two of its top leaders Speaker of The House Mike Madigan and Cook County Assesor Joe Berrios have too much power. And now a new attack -- the "who supported President Obama question."

    The battle to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner had already seen harsh words and heavy spending among the six candidates vying for the position. They are, in order of ballot position: billionaire Hyatt heir J.B. Pritzker, businessman Chris Kennedy, state Sen. Daniel Biss, downstate school superintendent Bob Daiber, Chicago community organizer Tio Hardiman and physician Robert Marshall.  Here's Who's Running for Governor of IllinoisHere's Who's Running for Governor of Illinois

    While the candidates have met many times across the state, Tuesday night marked their first event airing live on television and the stakes were high for those hoping to break out of the pack.

    "This could be a breakaway moment and every candidate has to hope for breaking through," University of Illinois-Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson said ahead of the forum. 

    While the candidates have been campaigning for months, Tuesday's forum was a different venue that came down to how well their message translates through the airwaves.  10 Races to Watch in Illinois Politics This Year10 Races to Watch in Illinois Politics This Year

    "You do have to look in this case, gubernatorial," Simpson added. "You have to look like you could be the governor and that's the most important single thing, and also getting the voters to like you is useful - and not always easy. And then whatever it is you say has to have some resonance and some power to it."

    While the candidates have been regularly conducting internal polls, the general public has yet to see any results since October. The forum gave each of the participants a chance to make a major impression and gave voters an idea of just where each candidate, as well as the race as a whole, stands.

    Kennedy was asked why he has turned his criticism to Mayor Rahm Emanuel even tho he had supported him.

    All of the Democrats favor sanctuary cities, only Bob Daiber has a Firearm Owners Identification card to carry a gun, and he also supports a gas tax.

    Biss had to explain his vote that would have cut pensions.

    The most awkward moment was the silence from Kennedy at first when asked to say anything positive about Pritzker.

    "It's difficult for me to heap praise on him," Kennedy said.

    He thought better of that comment later and said he apologized to Pritzker after the forum.

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