CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gov. Bruce Rauner and Jeanne Ives squared off in a testy forum Monday in what might be their only face-to-face debate before the March 20 primary.
Ahead of the debate, things got very interesting in the Republican race for Illinois governor with a major donation to Jeanne Ives' campaign. It came from a businessman who had once supported Bruce Rauner.
Jeanne Ives faces an uphill battle in trying to overcome Gov. Bruce Rauner's incumbency and his deep pockets. But on Monday she reported a $500,000 donation from Lake Forest businessman Dick Uihlein.
Jeanne Ives was all smiles going into the debate, but the former West Point officer had her battle face on during the 80-minute forum with Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"Elections are referendums on what's gotten done in the past. Governor Rauner can't pretend to run, you know, 2014 all over again, he's had three years to sit down there and do something, he's done nothing," said Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives.
Gov. Rauner frequently turned his answers into an opportunity to attack his two biggest nemesis with a focus on the general election in November, not the primary.
"This election we'll win, we'll win because we have the message, we have the team, we have the ability to beat Madigan and his handpicked candidate for governor, JB Pritzker. They are all part of that crony network of corruption and self-dealing," said Rauner.
Ives criticized the governor for signing a bill expanding tax payer-funded abortion, calling it the social agenda of his wife Diana, who's a Democrat.
Gov. Rauner: "This is more false vicious attacks."
Ives: "It's not false, it's not vicious."
Rauner: "Yes it is."
Ives: "I said it nicely, it's the truth."
Rauner: "And Madigan loves everything that you're saying."
Rauner also found himself on the defensive about the 32-percent income tax hike, at one point throwing up his hands in frustration.
Afterwards the governor again characterized the election as all about beating Madigan and Pritzker and he appeared confident.
"It was a great discussion and we look forward to victory March 20th, and victory in November," said Rauner.
Ives also expressed confidence, believing she showed voters there is an alternative.
"I think that he tried to monopolize the conversation, but in the end it didn't look good for him because he only spoke in generalities as always, you know why, because he doesn't lead on policy," said Ives.
But when it comes to campaign funds, it's clear the governor is way out ahead. His cash on hand at last report was $55 million.
Ives, with the half million donation would still only be at $938,000.
But what that money will allow Ives to do now is get on television with some ads. She said they are working on getting those ads ready.
Meanwhile, Rauner's people told ABC 7 their polling shows he's up by 50 points on Monday.
Republican gubernatorial candidates Rauner, Ives face off in debate
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