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Illinois governor candidates spar in 1st debate

September 21, 2018

Gov. Bruce Rauner clashed with Democrat J.B. Pritzker in the first televised debate of an increasingly expensive Illinois gubernatorial race along with two third-party candidates vying for a chance to get their message out to voters.

The state’s candidates for chief executive argued their case Thursday evening on NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago. NBC 5 Political Editor Carol Marin put tough questions to each. Pritzker was asked about removing his toilets in his house for a tax break while Rauner was pressed on his comments about not being in charge of the state.

Rauner, the first-term Republican, was quick to blame House Speaker Michael Madigan for blocking his agenda through a stranglehold on Illinois politics.

Pritzker has taken criticism for his ambiguity during the campaign, refusing to give any details about how much more the wealthy would be taxed and who the billionaire considered wealthy for that matter.

The Chicago billionaire stuck to that script Thursday, promising investment in infrastructure, higher education and other projects while also lowering property taxes and income tax for middle-class Illinoisans. He said that it’s all possible by changing Illinois’ constitution to allow for a progressive income tax.

“Illinois has the most unfair tax system in the entire nation,” Pritzker said. “We need to ask the wealthiest people like Bruce Rauner and me to pay a higher rate and we need to provide a tax cut for middle-class families and those who are striving to get there and lower local property taxes.”

Marin tried several times to get Pritzker to talk about the rates he envisions for the graduated tax. Pritzker wouldn’t talk numbers. Rauner pounced on Pritzker’s ambiguity.

“Mr. Pritzker is dodging your question because he doesn’t want to tell the truth to the people of Illinois,” he said. “He is proposing a massive new income tax hike on all the people of our state. He doesn’t want to talk about it because the truth is so painfully unpopular.”

Both Conservative Sam McCann and Libertarian Kash Jackson took shots at the front-runners.

There was a heated exchange between McCann and Rauner after the governor accused the state senator of acting as the spoiler at the behest of Madigan.

The election is Nov. 6.

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