Quinn, Rauner give voters feisty last look in final debate
The debate Monday night between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner ended a rough-and-tumble series of televised meetings with a feisty finale and sent the big question of who should lead Illinois to the voters.
Thousands of those voters have been casting ballots for weeks via the mail and started in person Monday, giving both candidates lots of urgent reasons to come out swinging.
Quinn sought to portray Rauner as a wealthy businessman with a dozen bankruptcies among the companies he invested in and no specific plans to address Illinois' often cloudy financial picture.
"My opponent doesn't understand facts. He thinks his money can buy facts. The facts are the Illinois economy is growing. We've got more work to do," Quinn said.
And Rauner worked to paint Quinn as an ineffective, repeating the words "failed" and "failure" at nearly every turn and arguing the incumbent has failed win approval for the plans he supports, like raising the minimum wage.
"Pat Quinn has been a failure on the minimum wage just like he's been a failure on our economy and our schools and our taxes. He's had six years to be governor," Rauner said.
Like in last week's debate, Quinn didn't commit to whether he'd push to keep the 2011 income tax hike in the months right after the election as he told the Daily Herald he would months ago. But he said he backs that budget plan he created in March and will continue to.
This time, though, Quinn also declined to say whether he'd push to make the tax increase permanent even if Rauner wins.
"What I'll commit to is having a proper budget," Quinn said.
Rauner, meanwhile, was asked more than once to name a company his firm invested in that has created jobs. He directed questioners to look at the firm's website and didn't name a specific company.
"The point is there are so many," Rauner said.
When the two clashed on their well-worn debate over whether to raise the minimum wage, Quinn said he'd get an increase to more than $10 per hour approved by Jan. 1.
Rauner says he'll back raising the wage if it's packaged with business reforms.
Both are pushing hard for votes in the suburbs, where independent voters have the potential to swing elections depending on who they turn out for and in what numbers.
While Monday's debate ends their trio of televised meetings, the two candidates' scorching campaign on the TV airwaves is certain to continue in a big way in the 15 days before the Nov. 4 election.
Hours before the evening's debate, Rauner reported giving his campaign another $1.5 million. Spending by both candidates in the race is sprinting toward a new Illinois record.