Aware of how contentious the race has become, the Chamber separated by 90 minutes the speeches by the two major party candidates. Republican Sen. Bill Brady went first, promising to cut taxes, to increase business earnings, and he says, to create jobs.
"As a businessman, I know what it's like to struggle in a state where government seems to continuously attack you, " Brady said.
The senator, also a Bloomington real estate developer, was among his peers at the Chamber luncheon Friday. With a 100 percent approval rating after 15 years as a lawmaker, the Republican candidate for governor said he would surprised not to receive the group's endorsement.
"I'm a business person, and I would be very surprised, and I'm sure most business people in the state of Illinois would be, as well," Brady said.
But Gov. Pat Quinn is conceding nothing to Brady. Only last week, the Chamber's president praised the incumbent for what Quinn had done to help Illinois businesses during the past year.
"We've had five straight months of job creation, positive job growth, the most jobs created in the Midwest, right here in Illinois," said Quinn. "We're on a roll, and that's the right kind of optimistic, positive attitude."
"Anyone who thinks we are on a roll, is mistaken. I think we're being rolled by the governor," Brady said.
During his speech, Brady blasted what he repeatedly called the 'Quinn/Blagojevich Administration.' He criticized the governor's many recent bill signings that do not include a budget that resolves the state's $13-billion deficit.
"He's gallivanting around the state signing bill after bill when the number one focus is balancing the budget, living within our means," said Brady.
"You know, I heard my friend the senator was here earlier today and a little gloomy. You're not going to get Illinois' economy back on track by just being a naysayer, a pessimist," Quinn said.
On another topic, the governor says he still hopes the General Assembly will convene in a special session later in June to authorize the borrowing of $4 billion to pay the state's pension obligation.
However, Democratic and Republican sources tell ABC7 Chicago the three-fifths majority needed to pass a borrowing bill does not exist.