The latest poll numbers came out for the governor's race as the two main candidates faced off in a debate Wednesday. The race is tight between GOP State Sen. Bill Brady and incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, with Brady ahead slightly.
But can an independent candidate surge from behind? In the latest CNN-Time polls, Brady has a small edge with 40 percent over Quinn's 38 percent of likely voters. But in what some political watchers might find a surprise, 14 percent favor independent Scott Lee Cohen. Green Party candidate Rich Whitney got 4 percent.
Cohen says the poll is an encouraging sign for his campaign, saying in a statement, "We're obviously pleased with these latest poll results. It proves that our independent campaign is catching on and resonating with the voters."
Cohen was originally the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, but when questions about his past were raised, he dropped out, later deciding to run as an independent.
On Wednesday, Quinn and Brady faced off in a debate at the Union League Club in Chicago. One of their key disagreements was education. Brady made it clear he won't exempt schools from budget cuts.
"They have to share in the fiscal discipline," he said.
"We need to invest in education. We need revenue for education. We want to have good schools, good teachers," Quinn said.
Brady attacked Governor Quinn's inability to resolve the state's $13 billion deficit.
"You have had 20 months to implement those plans. Unfortunately, our state has been pushed in a position where we have the worst bond rating in any state in the nation because of record deficits and debt," Brady said.
Quinn snapped at Brady's plan to cut spending 10 percent across the board.
"We have to have a governor that understands you need common sense, not nonsense when it comes to the budget," Quinn said.
Cohen and Whitney were not invited to the debate because their poll numbers were not high enough.