Democratic incumbent Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and his GOP challenger State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington spent an hour going back and forth on ethics, gun control and abortion rights.
"I want to cut spending and taxes and create private-sector jobs," said Brady
"We preserved our education. We've maintained our health care. We make sure we have public safety," said Quinn.
The contenders argued about the state's jobs situation, too. The governor noted the falling Illinois employment rate and claimed his administration has created jobs. Brady said the state is still in recession and losing jobs. The governor also accused Brady of ignoring the African American community during the campaign and being against gay rights.
"Sponsored legislation, voted for it, to allow employers to fire gay people from the job," said Quinn.
Both candidates sought to link the other to former Illinois governors who got tangled in federal corruptions investigations, and both accused the other of being ethically challenged.
The debate lasted about an hour. Both candidates said they could do the job better than the other and traded verbal punches about the state's budget deficit and character.
Quinn defended his record spanning the past 21 months and promised he would return stability despite the state's record $13 billion deficit.
Brady said Quinn didn't have the backbone to stand up to top local Democrats, while Quinn made efforts to portray his opponent as out of touch with the mainstream.
Green Party candidate Rich Whitney has protested his absence from Wednesday night's debate. The League of Women Voters set the rules for who should be included. Whitney received more than 350,000 votes in his first run for governor four years ago, and he said that alone should demonstrate voter interest in him. Candidates Scott Lee Cohen and Lex Green are also running for governor.