CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker and the man who wants to replace him, State Senator Darren Bailey, went head-to-head Friday in their first candidate forum.
They squared off over crime, gun control, abortion and climate concerns.
The two gubernatorial candidates traded barbs, along with their ideas on key topics for voters to consider with early voting now open and the election less than six weeks away.
Pritzker and Bailey offered a starkly different vision for Illinois.
The Illinois Associated Press Media Editors hosting an online forum for the two candidates looking to lead Illinois for the next four years.
The criminal justice reform law, known as the Safe-T Act, was among the most hotly debated topics. Pritzker champions the law, which will eliminate cash bail on January 1, however, Bailey is calling for its repeal.
"Darren Bailey wants to keep the current system, where murderers and rapists and domestic abusers can buy their way out of jail," Pritzker said.
"Sometimes I can't figure out if our governor's a fool or a liar. But he's trying to dupe us and that's exactly what's taking place. He intends to let criminals out of jail," Bailey responded.
On abortion, Pritzker continues to work to expand access in Illinois after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
"Darren Bailey thinks he or a politician should be in the room when doctors or women are making decisions about her health. She should be making those decision and not some politician," Pritzker said.
Bailey, who opposes abortion, was critical of how permissive Illinois has become under Pritzker as governor.
"Women's rights are well protected here. Nothing's changing. I couldn't change them on my own if I wanted to. Governor Pritzker stays up at night tyring to think of new rights," Bailey rebutted.
The candidates also debated climate initiatives and gun control measures, presenting voters with a clear choice.
"We just have to simply ask ourself one question: Are we better off today than we were four years ago? That answer is a resounding no," Bailey contended.
"During this forum, you've seen that Darren Bailey is a Donald Trump extremist who wants to take our state backward," Pritzker said.
Bailey is calling for a special session to deal with concerns about the Safe-T Act. Pritzker said his agenda for the veto session includes a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with abortion rights.