Current Governor Patrick Quinn and State Comptroller Daniel Hynes stopped at the Union League Club of Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 18 for a gubernatorial rally, the first of two such events scheduled for the day. The two candidates were gearing up for another meeting as part of the Campaign for Better Health Care immediately following the Union League debate. Both candidates seemed to react more cordial towards one another since the mutual vituperation experienced only 24 hours earlier in Rockford, IL.
The audience at the Union League Club of Chicago could not help but question the candidates’ infamous campaign ads which negatively portray each one’s rival and was one of the controversial issues that intensified the debate in Rockford. Potential constituents raised eyebrows over financing campaigns that expend resources on such nonsensical and accusatory advertisement. The two candidates ironically declared each was sticking to the major issues at hand, like the budget crisis and taxation proposals, but subliminally blamed one another for besmirching his respective campaign.
Critical to the debate was the $11.6 billion budget deficit in Illinois which Governor Pat Quinn reemphasized as the worst economic crisis in the state’s history. Daniel Hynes proposed a progressive tax which would increase income taxes for those making in surplus of $200,000. He added that Quinn, on the other hand, seeks to increase taxes across the entire middle class. Quinn shot back highlighting Hynes’ wishy-washy position on progressive taxation, referring to 2004 when Hynes voted against a progressive tax policy. Quinn also mentioned his opponent’s support for former Governor and recently impeached Rod Blagojevich, exposing Hynes’ inconsistency.
Another striking difference between the two candidates was their positions towards public pensions, which eat up surprisingly large amounts of the state’s budget. Governor Quinn championed a two-tier public pension system which would cost taxpayers less money but provide fewer benefits to teachers and future university employees. This was met with fierce resistance during a previous rally by the teachers union which also protested the 2 percent fee increase to their retirement plans suggested by Quinn. Hynes cleverly shied away from engaging in an argument about the pros and cons of a two-tiered public pension system, but Quinn relentlessly exploited Hynes’ failure to take a stance on a two-tiered pension plan.
Quinn and Hynes seemed to have a few similarities to complement their differences. Both candidates strongly advocate a reform of U.S. health care favoring universal health insurance and the creation of a public option. Moreover, both candidates support President Obama’s decision to transfer Gitmo detainees to the mostly vacant maximum security prison in Thompson, IL whilst ensuring the safety and security of Illinoisans. Also, Hynes and Quinn both agree that Illinois’ school districts are over expanded and need to be reconsolidated. The existence of needless districts burden taxpayers, but the two maintained that consolidation must be approached cautiously from a local perspective.
Hynes announced that the two candidates share one common similarity, that neither has been elected governor. Hynes continued by attacking Quinn’s lack of leadership for the past 9 months, noting that Quinn’s short-term solutions to the economic crisis caused more harm than good. Hynes argued that borrowing more money to ease the current recession only forces Illinois even deeper into debt in the long run. As Hynes said during the Rockford, IL debate “My job is to find a way to pay $4 billion in bills that we don’t have the money for because you haven’t solved the budget crisis. So that’s why I’m running for your job. You’re not doing it.” In response, Quinn noted that more bipartisan legislation has been passed, and passed quickly, due to Quinn’s ability to make “tough decisions during tough economic times.” Also, Quinn rearticulated that his instatement as Governor originated from unfortunate circumstances and that he took office during the darkest hour in Illinois’ history.
The Democratic gubernatorial forum appeared more intense than the Republican forum held a few weeks earlier, because there were only two candidates debating at this particular rally in comparison to the five total present for the Republican event. As is the tradition, the Union League Club of Chicago will be holding another political forum for the Democratic U.S. Senatorial candidates on December 16, 2009.
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