Gov. Pat Quinn threw the first jab in his opening statement, blaming Comptroller Dan Hynes for the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal.
"Why did things go so wrong at Burr Oak? Why did he fail to oversee the burial trust fund?" Quinn said.
Hynes counterpunched within seconds, using what's become his favorite attack on the Quinn administration.
"Recently we learned that 1,700 dangerous criminals were released into our communities, and no one seems to know why," said Hynes.
At every opportunity, the comptroller locked in on the prison issue, while the governor dug up the cemetery scandal.
"His office is in charge of regulating cemeteries in Illinois. We had a terrible, horrific, grave-robbing scandal at Burr Oak Cemetery," said Quinn.
"The governor's own task force concluded that it wasn't the responsibility of the comptroller's office or any other agency. It was a gaping hole in our regulatory framework," Hynes said.
On the budget, Hynes blasted the governor for borrowing money to cover the deficit.
"While he says he says he's stabilized the budget, it's actually grown from $9 billion to $13 billion, " Hynes said.
"We're in the worst fiscal crisis in the history of Illinois, and in order to deal with that, we've had to borrow money," said Quinn.
At a low point in the debate, the governor said he simply did not trust Hynes.
"He smiles in your face and stabs you in the back," Quinn said.
The comptroller questioned Quinn's state of mind.
"He deals in his own reality," said Hynes.
During the 1-hour, 15-question debate, Hynes clearly thought he got the best of Quinn.
"The governor seemed agitated and almost angry tonight, and maybe it's because polls are tightening and the race is getting much closer," Hynes said.
The governor explained why he thought Hynes bombed.
"I was disappointed that my a opponent didn't say one word about jobs. He wanted to talk a lot about me, but I don't' think that's what the people want to hear," said Quinn.
About the only light moment near the end was an extra question from moderator and ABC7 anchor Ron Magers.
"I'm curious about one thing, at the end of all this, will you be friends?""Sure. Absolutely," Hynes said.
"I believe in being friends with everybody," said Quinn.