NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. JB Pritzker and Republican contender Sen. Darren Bailey squared off Thursday night in the first of two Nexstar debates. Here are the moments from that first debate between Pritzker and Bailey that we think everyone will be talking about.
“Can I have a chance on that one?” “Nope.”
In a back-and-forth style debate, many questions were directed to one or the other candidate first, often with a chance of a response from the other candidate after the fact. However, some questions were tailored to Governor Pritzker or Senator Bailey.
After several round trips on taxes, the moderators moved on to the next topic. Bailey disagreed, but was effectively stopped by WGN-TV News anchor Tahman Bradley.
“Can I have a chance on that one? My name is called out,” Bailey said.
Bradley’s response was quick and effective: “No”.
The moment had the audience laughing, and the moderators moved on to discuss abortion.
“I couldn’t change that if I tried.”
WCIA-TV News anchor Jennifer Roscoe brought the possibility of a statewide abortion ban to Bailey, and he had a response that surprised some audience members.
“Illinois has the most permissive abortion laws in the country. Nothing will change when I’m governor. I couldn’t change them if I could. [sic]”Bailey said.
He went on to say that abortion would not be a priority for him in office, instead prioritizing taxes, crime and education.
Leave it to the “co-equal branch”
Ever since the Fourth of July shooting at the parade in Highland Park, Pritzker has called for a nationwide ban on assault weapons. When asked why this hasn’t happened at the state level, the governor dodged.
“There are task forces working through this in the General Assembly – remember, the General Assembly is a co-equal branch of government. They have to do their job so that we have legislation,” Pritzker replied.
“We ask the questions here.”
Later in the gun control discussion, Senator Bailey tried his hand at moderation by asking Pritzker a question directly.
After dodging the question of whether he thinks teachers should be armed, Bailey changed the subject.
“While we have time, I want to assure you that when I am elected governor, I will serve my full four years in office. I promise you that I will not run for another elected office,” the senator said. Bailey, regarding rumors that Pritzker will run for president in 2024. “I signed the People’s Pledge promising that I will, and Governor Pritzker, I want to ask you if you are interested in signing this same commitment.
Bailey pulled a piece of paper out of his suit jacket to cheers from the audience.
“Good? Do you have an answer?
The moderators took the time to remind the audience to hold back their applause and remind Senator Bailey that “we ask the questions here.”
JB renews commitment to Illinois
The moderators took Bailey’s question and ran with it, and asked Pritzker to pledge to serve a full term if re-elected.
“I intend to serve four more years as governor and be re-elected, and I intend to support the president who is running for re-election,” Pritzker said.
“Could you name the Jewish leaders who agree with you?
Senator Bailey recently made headlines when he compared abortion to the loss of life during the Holocaust. The statement was controversial and widely rejected by the Jewish community, including Bailey’s opponent.
Bailey has since doubled down on that statement, even stating in debate that his statement “is true when you compare the numbers.”
He said several Jewish leaders told him he was right.
When asked onstage to name these leaders, Bailey said no.
The next debate is scheduled for October 18 at 7 p.m.