With the November election less than a month away, the first gubernatorial debate was an important opportunity for candidates to sell themselves and their ideas to voters.
“Surprising, low key.” That's how one Rockford college political science professor described the gubernatorial debate between republican Jim Ryan and democrat Rod Blagejovich.
"I expected the Attorney General would have to be more on the attack because he's so far behind because he has to close the gap,” says political science professor Bob Evans of Rockford College.
While both candidates did charge each other with corruption, Evans says Blagejovich made more inroads, because his accusations against Ryan are ones voters can understand.
"What Ryan tried to accuse Blagojevich of is a kind of corruption but he used names and incidents people don't know about. So it seems Blagojevich has the easier time making his charges stick,” says Evans.
With Ryan behind in the polls, Evans says the attorney general cannot lose debates and expect to win the election.
"Ryan needs to somehow close the gap so he has to come up with some positive programs or some criticisms that will put a dent in Blagojevich's lead,” comments professor Evans.
The candidates will meet three more time to debate before the Nov. 5 election. Evans says with each meeting the stakes get higher.