Governor JB Pritzker and challenger Darren Bailey face off in heated first debate

NORMAL, Ill. (CBS) — With 33 days to go before the Illinois gubernatorial election, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker and his Republican opponent, Illinois State Senator Darren Bailey, faced off Thursday night .

At the debate at Illinois State University’s Braden Auditorium, the candidates argued over crime, abortion, taxes and other issues. As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported, we heard name-calling and we heard the word “liar” a lot during the debate.

All of this reflected the harshly critical campaign we saw Pritzker and Bailey run for months.

As for the subjects of attack, nothing was on the table.

The first line of questioning from the moderators of the debate was the Safe-T Law, which has caused controversy and confusion particularly because of its provisions on bail reform. Pritzker accused Bailey of voting against funding programs that would help prevent crime – such as increasing the number of Illinois state police, building crime labs and funding crime programs. violence prevention.

Bailey said the Safe-T Act must be repealed and said it “allows violent offenders to get out of jail before trial.” He claimed Pritzker could have offered bail reform for nonviolent felons, but said that’s not what the Safe-T Act is.

Meanwhile, abortion may be the most contentious issue this campaign season. We spoke to students in Bloomington – some of whom were voting for the first time – and they wanted to hear from the candidates about an abortion ban.

Pritzker stressed that he supports abortion rights and plans to maintain it.

“I think the law that we have in place, that we’ve signed, that protects a woman’s right to choose is what we should keep in place,” Pritzker said.

Bailey appeared to suggest that he would not have the power to change abortion laws in Illinois if he became governor.

“Illinois has the most permissive abortion law in the country,” he said. “Nothing’s going to change when I’m governor. I couldn’t change them if I could.”

That’s not quite true for Bailey. Since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, governors of many red states have implemented their own abortion restrictions.

Meanwhile, Bailey put the governor on the spot, asking if he was running for higher posts. Pritzker said he plans to serve his full term and be re-elected, and to support President Joe Biden’s bid for re-election.

Pritzker answered a few questions after the debate. Bailey didn’t.

Pritzker was asked if he would run for president as he walked out of the auditorium. He refused to answer.

North Central College political expert Stephen Caliendo expected before the debate that the spat would continue in this debate.

“It’s a very partisan atmosphere, and it’s an atmosphere of ideological division in our country right now. But remember, getting the vote out is the most important thing,” Caliendo said. “It’s not necessarily about convincing people to vote for one or the other, but can you motivate yourself to make sure you go and vote? There’s definitely no love lost between these two candidates.

The debate was a collaboration between AARP and ISU, and the majority of tickets went to students and voters over 50. So people from two strong voting blocs were able to submit questions and hear from candidates in person ahead of the Nov. 8 election. .

This is one of two contests between the candidates. They will face off again on October 18.


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