CHICAGO — Illinois governor JB Pritzker and Republican challenger Darren Bailey squared off Tuesday in the final televised debate ahead of next month’s election.
The debate, which was moderated by WGN News anchors Micah Materre and Tahman Bradley, focused on the economy, crime and more.
It followed a contentious first debate earlier this month at Illinois State University. A new poll released Monday showed the incumbent Pritzker is leading Bailey by 22 points.
After initial introductions on how they would connect with voters who are resistant to them, the gloves started to come off.
Pritzker began by calling Bailey a “Trump extremist” at the end of his first question, then Bailey was asked about his previous comment this summer calling Chicago a “hell hole.”
“I have a new name — ‘Pritzkerville’,” Bailey said. “Every one of Pritzker’s extreme policies are destroying the city.”
Questions continued on for Pritzker and Bailey regarding Chicago. At around the 10-minute mark, Pritzker asked if there can no longer be interruptions. During the first debate at Illinois State University, both candidates repeatedly interrupted each other.
When asked how to crack down on crime, Bailey said, “We first need to get out southern border under control.”
Pritzker claimed his administration has been investing to counter gangs and other issues.
“I’m the first governor to find the gang crime witness protection program,” Pritzker said. “If you want to reduce crime, you got to solve crimes. All the things we have invested in the last four years do exactly that.”
When discussing the controversial SAFE-T Act, Pritzker once again signaled that he supports amending it.
Moving on to abortion laws, Bailey stated that he couldn’t do anything about them and called it a “fool’s errand” due to longtime Democratic control of the state.
“We are a haven for women,” Pritzker said. “I think we need to expand the provision of those health services if they come to our state.”
Gov. Pritzker was asked if he still is satisfied with DCFS following a series of WGN Investigates’ reports and he said firing director “wouldn’t solve anything” due to several directors over the last 20 years.
“No I’ve never going to be satisfied, we have vulnerable children in our state and we need to make sure we are taking care of them,” Pritzker said. “But it’s not a light switch.”
Bailey fired back due to Smith being held in contempt of court.
“Marc Smith being held in contempt of court multiple times, that’s disastrous, that’s wrong,” Bailey said.
Bailey and Pritzker said that he opposes the Bears potentially using state tax dollars for a new stadium in Arlington Heights.
To close, both were asked to say something nice about their opponent. Bailey commented that Pritzker “looks awesome” in his suits and Pritzker said he admired that Bailey married his high school sweetheart.
Early voting is already underway in Illinois and the election is set for Nov. 8.
Watch the full replay of the debate in the video player below