* If you didn’t watch last night’s debate, the Tribune has a really good roundup of start to finish. Excerpt…
But Pritzker, asked if he would vow to not raise taxes if elected to a second term, would not take the [no new taxes] pledge. He did say he would not make another attempt to seek passage of a graduated-rate income tax system that voters rejected two years ago, and he said continued balanced state budgets could lead to permanent tax cuts. […]
Bailey faced controversy over a 2017 video in which he contended the 6 million deaths of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust of World War II paled in comparison with lives lost to abortion. Bailey has said he hasn’t needed to apologize and that unnamed Jewish leaders “have told me that I’m right.” In the debate, Bailey stood by his Holocaust comparison and said “the facts are true when you compare the numbers.” But he refused to name the Jewish leader, saying, “I’m not going to put anybody on record.”
Bailey, who has called for the repeal of the state criminal justice reform legislative package called the SAFE-T Act and criticized its provisions for cashless bail, acknowledged he could support unspecified “bail reform for nonviolent criminals.” But he continued to contend the cashless bail provisions taking effect Jan. 1 were akin to “attaching revolving doors to every jail in the state of Illinois. And, friends, we’re going to have the exact same problem across the state that Chicago is experiencing.”
Pritzker said Bailey’s comments were in line with Republicans who “have put out a lot of disinformation, a whole list of things that they say are non-detainable offenses. There’s no such thing.” He said the goal of the criminal justice reform package was “to keep murderers, rapists, domestic abusers, violent criminals in jail.”
Still Pritzker acknowledged that changes to the law should be made but he repeatedly did not offer any specifics, saying, “I think there are clarifications that can be made in the law to make sure that everyone understands what this law does.”
* Also from the story…
“Illinois has the most permissive abortion laws in the nation. Nothing’s going to change when I’m governor. I couldn’t change them,” Bailey said. “JB Pritzker stays up at night trying to dream up new abortion laws.”
* Some keen observations about the debate format and the moderators from Dave McKinney at WBEZ…
But in showcasing two gubernatorial contenders with polar opposite views on Illinois’ direction, the fast and, at times, scattershot pacing by the debate’s hosts left viewers without answers about where the candidates stood on some of those key issues. […]
When asked if he would commit to not raise taxes, Pritzker avoided directly answering, later saying a continued balanced budget could make “tax cuts permanent.” But Bailey wasn’t asked the same question, and escaped the issue altogether. […]
Neither candidate seemed to offer up much of a prescription when asked about the three things that could be done to curb corruption in Springfield.
The governor didn’t offer anything specific, and Bailey suggested stripping accused lawmakers of their state benefits when they are indicted — ignoring that Illinois law requires criminal convictions before pension benefits can be taken away.
* Fox 32…
Debate moderators cited a voter opinion survey that found about half of Illinoisans believe crime will increase after January 1, when the SAFE-T Act imposes new requirements on prosecutors and police who want to detain a violent offender.
Bailey calls for repealing it. Gov. Pritzker says he wants changes but wouldn’t get specific.
“The criminal justice system that Darren Bailey and Republicans are standing up for is one that allows murders and rapists and domestic abusers to buy their way out of jail. And that’s unsafe,” Pritzker said.
Moderator: “Gov. Pritzker, are you willing to answer the question? One specific change you would make?”
“Again, I think there are clarifications that can be made in the law to make sure that everyone understands,” Pritzker responded.
I told subscribers last month about a very interesting crosstab in that WGN poll which has gone unreported elsewhere: “77 percent of Trump voters say the law will increase crime, compared to just 26.5 percent of Joe Biden voters who say it will drive up crime.” Crosstabs also showed that the poll’s Trump/Biden 2020 split was extremely close to the actual result. Biden, you will recall, won by 17 points. So, most of the people who believe the SAFE-T Act will increase crime aren’t gonna be Pritzker voters.
According to Bailey, Pritzker’s handling of crime, property taxes and education is “crushing” the state, “all because J.B. Pritzker is hellbent on becoming the most radical leftist governor in America. … This man is dangerous.”
Pritzker, elected in 2018 amid the aftermath of a budget stalemate that left the state billions of dollars in debt, boasted before an audience at Illinois State University in Normal of the way he paid down debt and balanced the budget for four years. Bailey claimed that Pritzker did so with federal relief money for the COVID-19 pandemic and by not paying the full amount to fund employee pension systems.
Bailey contended he would cut taxes with a “reprioritization of spending” and zero-based budgeting. Pritzker said his management of the budget has proved successful and with billions of debt paid down, his continued leadership could mean lower taxes in the future.
Pritzker said he would not repeat his 2020 attempt to change the constitutionally required flat income tax to force wealthier residents to pay more, contending that his management of finances has produced budget surpluses the last two years.
Bailey said Pritzker shorted the pension systems by billions of dollars a year, which is true on an actuarial basis, but not on a statutory one. Bailey did not say how he would provide that extra dough.
Bailey’s plan to make tuition more affordable at state schools included reducing administrative “bloat,” referencing University of Illinois’ President Timothy Killeen, who Bailey claims makes over a million dollars per year. […]
He did not provide specifics for reducing the so-called bloat.
“Our children are leaving the state, they’re not able to attend here, our tuition is entirely too high, and guess what, news flash, under the last four years of JB Pritzker, it’s gotten worse,” Bailey said, stressing Republicans should be the ones to ”deal with these issues.”
When asked how he can make state colleges more affordable, Pritzker said he made higher education more affordable by raising investments.
“In fact, I’ve increased MAP grants, those are our state scholarships, by 50%. That’s $200 million. That means that anyone who is eligible that applies for a MAP grant gets one. That’s never happened in the history of our state. As a result, we have the highest freshmen enrollment across the state in six years, and here at ISU, it’s the highest in 35 years,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker made that ISU comment after Bailey praised ISU in contrast to the U of I.
* Hannah Meisel…
But Bailey has not been shy about his position on abortion as a much more conservative Republican than the brand of GOP politicians who’ve traditionally enjoyed political success in Illinois. Thursday night’s debate featured clips of both candidates played in surround sound for the approximately 1,200 audience members in ISU’s Braden Auditorium. One of those clips featured then-legislative candidate Bailey in a 2017 Facebook live video unearthed this summer, in which the Republican compared abortion to the Holocaust.
Bailey has previously accused Democrats and the media of exaggerating his statement that “the attempted extermination of the Jews of WWII doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life that has been lost with abortion since its legalization.” But he also defended his statement in August, claiming that Jewish leaders told him he was right. Asked on Thursday to identify those leaders, Bailey refused. […]
A majority of Illinoisans — and Americans — favor banning assault-style weapons, as Congress did for a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004. Pritzker re-upped his call for that ban on Thursday night, but when asked why Democrats didn’t take up the issue this summer, the governor punted responsibility to the legislature. Bailey, too, demurred to the General Assembly on that question, pivoting instead to talking about mental health, and at one point blaming the influx of migrants at the nation’s southern border. […]
Bailey, on the other hand, claimed he could save the state billions of dollars by implementing “zero-based budgeting,” wherein continuing appropriations are nixed and each line item in Illinois’ now $40-billion budget would have to be justified. But the Republican declined to elaborate on what he thought he’d turn up in wasteful spending.
* ABC 7…
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.
Both candidates were asked about Amendment One, also known as the “Workers Rights Amendment,” which would enshrine the right to organize and collectively bargain into the state constitution.
Pritzker has been firmly in favor of it while Bailey signaled opposition, noting that an amendment is not needed when workers already have many of the same rights currently.
“My message is this: Unions, stay in your lane and everything will be fine,” Bailey said. “Leave mom-and-pop and private business alone.”
The line earned groans from the audience and perhaps represents a thorny subject for Bailey as unions have broad support across the state, even among many downstate residents likely to vote for him.
The debate moderator asked Bailey: “Aside from saving the life of the mother, would you ban all abortions including in cases of rape and incest?”
“Illinois has the most permissive abortion laws in the nation. Nothing’s going to change when I’m governor. I couldn’t change them if I could,” Bailey replied.
“J.B. Pritzker stays up at night trying to dream up new abortion laws,” Bailey said, and that comment elicited what appeared to be gasps from some in the crowd.
* CBS 2…
North Central College political expert Stephen Caliendo expected before ethe debate that the spatting would continue in this debate.
“It’s a partisan atmosphere. It’s an ideologically divisive atmosphere in our country right now. But remember, getting out the vote is the most important thing,” Caliendo said. “It’s not necessarily convincing people to vote for one or the other, but can you can get energized to make sure to go to the ballot?”
* NBC 5…
The influx of migrants into the Chicago area from Texas as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s controversial Operation Lone Star was also a subject of discussion during the debate, with Bailey suggesting that Pritzker house the migrants in Hyatt hotels, alluding to the Pritzker family’s ownership of the worldwide hotel chain.
While incumbents traditionally have an upper hand in debates, Bailey’s preparation as the underdog in the race set the stage for a combative debate that made the candidates’ disagreements heading into the election strikingly transparent.
When asked about keeping businesses in Illinois, Bailey leveraged the departure of companies like Caterpillar and Tyson to hammer Pritzker on taxes and attacked the governor’s inability to retain HQs despite having four years with a legislative supermajority: “We shouldn’t be having this conversation.” Bailey was also able to slip in another attack on Chicago crime, name-checking McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski’s recent comments about Chicago crime to underscore his point.
Yes, these are the sort of pivots you expect politicians to make during these debates but Bailey, regardless of his views or policy, performed in a way that betrayed his lack of experience on a big political stage. Perhaps the bar was pretty low to begin with, but he cleared it.