09/10/2014 11:02 am ET Updated Sep 10, 2014

Illinois Governor Candidates Trade Messy Verbal Blows Over Education, Ethics And Hair

The mud flew between incumbent Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and his Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, during a meeting before the Chicago Tribune editorial board Tuesday.

Like an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner with two ideologically opposed uncles, the 90-minute session devolved into a debate, during which heated rhetoric alternated with insults that would make the characters in "Mean Girls" proud.

Quinn at one point accused Rauner, a prominent businessman who made his millions as a venture capitalist, of not knowing arithmetic. Not to be outdone, Rauner made a jab at the balding incumbent in an effort to tie him to corruption via his jailed ex-boss, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"The only difference between Pat and Rod is the hair," Rauner said, referring to Blagojevich's famous coif.

On the subject of education, Quinn dismissed Rauner's education proposal to boost the state's school funding while cutting the property taxes that fund it. Rauner, on the other hand, declared that Quinn -- who opposes school vouchers -- and his administration are "hostile to school reform."

Things got even uglier when the topic turned to corruption, a notorious black eye for a state that's seen four of its past seven governors go to prison.

Rauner charged that Quinn was part of the state's corrupt political system and hammered the governor on his scandal-plagued anti-violence program.

"Pat Quinn’s in trouble because he’s engaged in cronyism and corruption and he’s a failed governor," Rauner said.

Quinn rallied with a jab at Rauner's role in hiring an executive for one of his investment companies, which ultimately declared bankruptcy after several executives went to jail on various fraud charges.

"You handpicked [William] Rauwerdink to run a company that perpetuated a huge accounting fraud," Quinn said, adding that Rauner has "made a fortune off the misfortune of others."

One of the most pointed accusations came from Quinn, who implied Rauner all but bribed state lawmakers with campaign cash so that they would vote down a pension overhaul that Quinn had backed. Rauner denied the allegation, calling Quinn's bill "a mistake."

The latest Huffington Post poll shows Rauner with a roughly six-point lead over Quinn.

Quinn is seeking his second full term in office. This is Rauner's first run for public office.



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