They blasted the leadership of Governor Pat Quinn and the state's business climate.
The four candidates were also asked about sore subjects, ranging from clouting a child into an elite school to support for unions, conservative views and the decision not to release an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
"When I made that announcement that we were going to release it, that was totally the intent. What happened between then and its release was a federal lawsuit was filed," said Treasurer Dan Rutherford, Republican candidate for governor.
"Five percent of applicants can come in under deferential process. We called and had her put on that list. We were not asking for anything special, hundreds of other families did the same thing," said Bruce Rauner, Republican candidate for governor.
"Despite Pat Quinn's desire to run attack ads against Bill Brady claiming he'd eliminate a woman's right to choose in the case of rape or incest, these are attack ads distort the truth. No governor in this country can eliminate a woman's right to choose," said State Sen. Bill Brady, Republican candidate for governor.
"The best way to get concession from unions and to keep them from killing the goose that laid the golden egg is to meet with them and talk to them, it's not to demonize them," said State Sen. Kirk Dillard, Republican candidate for governor.