Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Darren Bailey face off in heated 1st debate

Safe-T Act, crime, abortion all take center stage at 2022 Illinois governor debate

Craig Wall Image
Friday, October 7, 2022
Pritzker, Bailey face off in heated 1st debate
Governor JB Pritzker and Republican candidate Darren Bailey squared off in their first head-to-head televised debate. which was often heated.

NORMAL, Ill. (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker and Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey squared off Thursday night in their first head-to-head televised debate.

The candidates traded punches on crime, abortion, gun control and more at Illinois State University in Normal, and the debate often devolved into a shouting match.

The debate was marked by the candidates frequently talking over one another, and calling each other liar, and showcasing their sharp differences on the key issues at stake in the election.

Illinois General Election: Meet the candidates

Pritzker and Bailey tackled tough issues tonight. The controversial SAFE-T Act put Pritzker on the defensive when pushed for what he would change.

I think there are clarifications, as you know the Republicans have put out a lot of disinformation," he said.

The governor called Bailey a hypocrite.

"Governor Pritzker is obviously lying about everything he just said," Bailey countered.

The tension mounted as the candidates talked about budgeting.

"JB's an arrogant liar, this budget to him is a shell game and he thinks we're all patsies or buying it," Bailey said.

"Over and over again you've heard Darren Bailey lie for the last 10 minutes of this debate," Pritzker said.

On abortion Pritzker, went on the attack over what has become his key campaign issue.

"Darren Bailey wants to eliminate a woman's right to choose, he wants to take away women's reproductive freedom," Pritzker said as Bailey talked over him.

"Illinois has the most permissive abortion laws in the nation. Nothing's going to change when I'm governor," Bailey claimed.

The two candidates also debated gun control in the wake of the Highland Park mass shooting.

"I believe we ought to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in the state of Illinois," said Pritzker.

"The Highland Park shooting, it shouldn't have happened because of the laws that are on the books but when Governor Pritzker doesn't follow or obey these laws, these things happen," Bailey accused.

The most dramatic moment of the debate came when Bailey went after Pritzker over the speculation he may run for president. Bailey pledged not to run for another office if he's elected governor.

"I want to ask you if you're interested that same pledge to only run, that you won't run for another office," Bailey sad. "Matter of fact I have the pledge right here if you're interested in signing."

"I intend to serve four years more as governor if reelected, and I intend to support the president, he's running for reelection," said Pritzker.

After the debate Pritzker took a few questions from reporters reiterating his claims that Bailey lied about many things during the debate.

Bailey did not come out. Instead his spokesman Joe Debose acted as a surrogate with a drive by statement claiming Bailey won and saying that that "winners don't need spin."