SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) — Gov. JB Pritzker and Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) squared off in their second and final televised gubernatorial debate Tuesday night. Bailey called the governor incompetent, and Pritzker went on to point out that the downstate senator was too extreme for Illinois.
Pritzker and Bailey held no punches during their debate at WGN studios on Chicago’s North Side. The Republican farmer was soon asked about his descriptions of Chicago as a “hell” and “OK Corral.” Bailey told debate moderators that he now calls the town “Pritzkerville.”
“Each of Pritzker’s extreme policies is destroying the city,” Bailey said.
Both candidates would later go through their biggest campaign talking points less than three weeks before the general election.
Once again, criminal justice and the SAFE-T Act took center stage. While Sen. Bailey would like to repeal the entire law championed by the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus, Pritzker said it must be amended before the end of the year.
“Let’s change it, but don’t end it,” Pritzker said. “Darren Bailey is currently advocating for a system that allows people to buy their way out of prison.”
However, Pritzker did not provide specific examples of what he would like to see changed or clarified in the language of the Pretrial Fairness Act. Bailey said the SAFE-T Act is more than 700 pages of “bureaucratic confusion.” The senator said he supports the “100 of 102 prosecutors” in Illinois who oppose the current wording of the bill. He noted that many county leaders have sued the governor and legislative leaders who helped pass the Criminal Justice Reform Act.
“Governor. Pritzker’s SAFE-T Act has put a revolving door on our prison cells,” Bailey said.
During that time, the senator was repeatedly asked about his stance on abortion protections in Illinois. During an Oct. 6 debate, Bailey said he couldn’t change state abortion laws if he wanted to. Bailey was endorsed by every anti-abortion group in the state earlier this year. The Illinois Federation for the Right to Life, Illinois Citizens For Life and Illinois Family Action said Bailey demonstrated a strong commitment to life and was not afraid to speak up about his views on abortion.
Bailey recently withdrew her strong stance against abortion. Political insiders believe he may be trying to garner support from moderate Republicans in suburban Chicago, though that may alienate him from lower state public opinion. Bailey veered off Tuesday night and slammed Pritzker for repealing the abortion law parental notification.
“Let’s talk about extremism,” Bailey said. “Governor. Pritzker is perfectly fine with our children having abortions without their parents knowing about it. I think that’s extreme.
Yet Planned Parenthood Illinois Action said decades of research and experience have shown that forced parental involvement laws hurt young people and serve no worthwhile purpose. PPIA Vice President of Public Policy Brigid Leahy said the ANP was outdated, harmful and did not help young people in dangerous situations.
Pritzker noted that Bailey opposes abortion in all cases except to save a mother’s life. The Democrat said Illinois must continue to be a safe haven for women and others at risk of becoming pregnant.
The governor later said Bailey surrounded himself with racist, homophobic and xenophobic organizations and people while gaining the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
“Who do you trust to defend you? He is going to stand up for them, not working families and, in particular, blacks and browns in the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said.
Bailey then interrupted Pritzker and said the governor should stop throwing money at the state’s problems and find real solutions.
“I can’t stand it when you’re sitting here and lying like that,” Bailey said. “People need to know you’re lying to them.”
Now the final countdown is on as the two men will travel across the state to get more support before Nov. 8.
Copyright 2022 WGEM. All rights reserved.