Hot-button issues at center of governor debate

  • Illinois Gubernatorial candidates Republican Bill Brady, left, and Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn are seen before a televised debate, Wednesday.

    Illinois Gubernatorial candidates Republican Bill Brady, left, and Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn are seen before a televised debate, Wednesday. Associated Press

Updated 10/23/2010 8:47 PM

The terse yet civil governor's debate Wednesday saw hot-button societal issues abortion, gay rights and the death penalty take center stage.

State Sen. Bill Brady, a Bloomington Republican, told moderator Ron Magers and panelists at the ABC 7/League of Women Voters debate that he is proud of his social beliefs opposing abortion in the cases of rape and incest, and opposing civil unions and gay marriage but is not "using them to divide Illinois."


Instead, he said, he's "focused on bringing people together, solving the economic crisis and fiscal crisis. ... I'm going to use my platform in this office to bring economic recovery to the state."

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, wasn't shy about saying he supports abortion rights.

He supports civil unions and has stated he believes they could become law in Illinois by the end of the calendar year.

Quinn needled Brady for voting against 2004 legislation protecting gay and lesbians from workplace and housing discrimination, calling that vote "just plain wrong."

"You have to have a governor with a heart," he said.

Brady maintained that marriage between a man and a woman should be a "protected institution."

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The candidates, together for their third debate in the last week, also clashed over the death penalty. Brady supports lifting the current moratorium first put in place in 2001 by Gov. George Ryan on executions.

Quinn said he supports the death penalty in "heinous circumstances," but believes the moratorium should remain in place for the time being,

"That's the best way to protect the public interest," he said.

Brady, prodded by Magers, said he sees no conflict in opposing abortion and supporting the death penalty.

"I believe in protecting innocent human life," Brady said. "I don't believe heinous criminals ... deserve that same protection."


He accused Quinn of "punting" on the issue.

Also in the spotlight was the issue of gun control. Quinn wants an assault weapons ban. Brady noted he "supports the Second Amendment."

When they weren't talking about social issues, Quinn and Brady reiterated their respective plans to solve the state's budget crisis, which have repeatedly been criticized as murky.

Brady maintained that his plan to cut a dime on every dollar of the state's budget "won't punish one area or another."

Brady, a real estate developer who has been a state lawmaker for a total of 17 years, said "career politicians are unable to do this."

He called for the state to adopt line-item and zero-based budgeting.

"We need a governor who will deal with budgeting on a line-item basis," he said.

Quinn touted language state Sen. Dan Kotowski fought to insert in the budget this summer, which requires an appropriations committee of each chamber of the General Assembly to review individual line-item appropriations for the total budget and the budget for each state agency. The governor is then tasked with prioritizing the outcomes most important for each state agency, and measuring progress.

He said he'll "cut the budget in a way that maintains our education," but across-the-board cuts are a "wrong and reckless" way to go.

Green Party candidate Rich Whitney protested outside ABC 7 studios over not being invited to the debate.

He called the television network's method of candidate selection, based on poll numbers taken at least 30 days before the election, "arbitrary."

This was the fourth public debate for Quinn and Brady. The final debate will air at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 on WTTW Channel 11.