Quinn, Hynes battle it out in final debate

January 25, 2010 8:43:35 PM PST
Gubernatorial candidates Pat Quinn and Dan Hynes battled it out in their final debate before next week's primary election. The latest poll reveals it may be a tight race.

Quinn and Hynes are the only two Democratic candidates for governor.

The format wasn't that of a traditional debate. It was much more free-wheeling, contentious, even nasty at times.

The bickering began right away.

First up was the ad featuring the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, speaking very critically of Quinn 22 years ago when Washington made Quinn his revenue director. Washington later showed him the door, questioning his competency.

"I think your ad, when you don't put a picture on it, is a crystal clear example of politicians who want to use race, racial division and meanness to advance your personal cause. And I'm not going to go for that," said Quinn.

On Monday night, Gov. Quinn -- and in a campaign appearance earlier in the day with more than a dozen African-American politicians -- charged that Dan Hynes and his father Tom Hynes, a former state lawmaker, were racially divisive when Washington was mayor and remain so today.

But Hynes says it wasn't about that.

"This is about competence. Mayor Washington's words were clear. Pat Quinn was fired because of incompetence, mismanagement and grand standing. Competence is color-blind," said Hynes.

The Democratic candidates traded charges of incompetence on Monday night. Quinn held up a stack of news releases from Hynes' Comptroller Web site saying they boast of Hynes' oversight of cemeteries.

But when it comes to the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal, Quinn says Hynes changes his tune.

"He completely dropped the ball. He was incompetent," said Quinn.

They bickered over the state's budget crisis, with Hynes frequently mentioning his endorsements, including a big one Monday from former state senator and Illinois comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch.

"I think if our state's leaders had listened to Dan Hynes, we wouldn't be in the same crisis that we are in now," said Netsch.

And afterwards, when asked why his opponent is surging in the polls, the governor blamed it on negative advertising.

"When you have somebody spending $5 million on TV, and they don't refer to you as a loving son of a loving mother, your poll numbers drop," said Quinn.

"The tragedy of tonight is that he just wouldn't allow himself to admit mistakes or compliment a opponent," said Hynes.

Dan Hynes was referring to when they were asked if there was one thing they admired about each other. Hynes pointed to Quinn's work for helping veterans. But Quinn couldn't come up with one nice thing to say about Hynes. And, he also wouldn't admit to making any mistakes as governor.