Illinois gubernatorial candidates Bill Brady and Governor Pat Quinn debated yet again Sunday night--exchanging many of the same insults that Illinoisans have become familiar with in recent months. Outside the debate in suburban Elmhurst, Green Party candidate Rich Whitney and supporters gathered to protest his exclusion from the debate.
While jobs and the state budget is the biggest issue for all candidates--those issues took a back seat to ethics questions and personal jabs Sunday night.
At one point, Bloomington Republican Bill Brady dropped the b-word--Blagojevich, as in the indicted former governor of Illinois, who Quinn worked under.
After repeatedly blaming the Blagojevich/Quinn administration for the state's fiscal problems, Brady also mentioned that Quinn once called Blagojevich the "most decent and honorable man" he had met--drawing laughs and applause from the audience.
"I hate to say this, but Gov. Quinn has been worse than Gov. Blagojevich," Brady said, noting that Quinn used to defend Rod Blagojevich's integrity while he was in office. "Either you were in it for your own good or you were asleep at the wheel."
State spending was the subject of several questions from panelists--but none of the answers were new.
When asked what one "significant" state program he would cut to help fix the budget deficit, Quinn suggested analyzing all existing programs to see what isn't working.
Brady, who is standing by his plan to cut state spending 10 percent across-the-board, said programs like Medicaid need to be reformed to assure that only those eligible for the program receive it. He also mentioned Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey, saying that they managed to rescue their states from crippling deficits without raising taxes.
Quinn then accused Brady of wanting to cut funding for veterans programs and wanting to give tax breaks to the wealthiest residents.
Quinn also made sure to bring up Brady's "puppy kill legislation." Just after the primary, Brady sponsored a bill that would have allowed veterinarians to use gas chambers to euthanize groups of animals, rather than putting them down one by one with injections. Brady dropped the bill when Quinn released ads attacking him for the idea--ads that made a comeback in recent weeks.
"You love to personally attack people because you have no platform to solve the people of Illinois' problems," Brady said.
As the candidates exhanged jabs, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney gathered supporters outside Hammerschmidt Chapel, the Elmhurst Patch reports. Whitney was reportedly left out of the debate because he did not have enough statewide support in recent polls.
"It's maddening not to be able to get my point across," Whitney told the Patch. ". . . The Democrats and Republicans are beholden to big business and special interests. The Green Party is not."
LISTEN to the full debate here.