GOP Gov. Candidate Debate Takes on Feisty Tone

CHICAGO (AP) -- The four Republicans running for Illinois aren't shying away from personal jabs and controversial issues during a Chicago debate just weeks away from the primary.
The tone was combative from the start of the hour-long debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Illinois, WLS-TV and Univision.
Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford started the debate by denying allegation of political coercion and sexual harassment in a federal lawsuit filed against him by a former employee.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard took digs at all three, including calling out state Sen. Bill Brady for losing the GOP nomination in 2010.
Businessman Bruce Rauner says he's trying to change the culture of Springfield and isn't a career politician.
The candidates also addressed gay marriage, guns and pension reform.

GOP candidates talk gay marriage at debate

CHICAGO (AP) -- Republicans running for Illinois governor say they don't object to gay marriage on a personal level, but they don't support Illinois' new same-sex marriage law.
The question came up at a debate Thursday hosted by the League of Women Voters of Illinois, WLS-TV and Univision. Illinois' new same-sex marriage law takes effect later this year, but numerous couples have been able to wed early after court rulings.
State Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady voted against the legislation late last year. Both say they believe in the traditional definition of marriage.
Businessman Bruce Rauner says the issue should have been put to the voters with a referendum.
Treasurer Dan Rutherford voted for civil unions in 2010 while he was a lawmaker. He didn't elaborate on the new law.

Illinois GOP governor candidates debate guns

CHICAGO (AP) -- The four Republicans bidding for Illinois governor are debating whether assault-style guns should be legal.
State treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner and State Sen. Bill Brady say they'd back the state allowing the high-capacity weapons if owners passed a background check and were properly trained.
Rauner says there needs to be a careful balance between public safety and constitutional rights.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard said the issue is one for Congress. He says he's concerned about high capacity weapons and public safety.
The candidates debated Thursday at WLS-TV studios in Chicago.
A proposed statewide ban backed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was pulled from consideration last year in Springfield.

GOP governor candidates debate education funding

CHICAGO (AP) -- The four GOP candidates for Illinois governor are debating early childhood education.
State senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner and treasurer Dan Rutherford are facing off at WLS-TV studios in Chicago.
Rutherford says he views early childhood education as a "business investment" and funding should be increased.
Brady wants to eliminate the state board of education to allow decisions to be made at a local level.
Rauner wants more charter schools as well as vouchers to help poor children attend private schools.
Dillard says the education system should be seamless from early childhood through college in Illinois.
Three of the four candidates say they're opposed to keeping the state's income tax in place to increase school funding. Rutherford says he's open to negotiations to extend the tax.

Rutherford addresses allegations at GOP debate

CHICAGO (AP) -- State treasurer Dan Rutherford is addressing harassment allegations against him head on.
The Chenoa Republican brought up the issue himself in the opening moments of a debate in Chicago with his three rivals to be the GOP nominee for governor.
A former employee in Rutherford's office has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Rutherford of sexual harassment and forcing him to do work on campaign time.
Rutherford denied the allegations, saying "nothing like that has ever occurred." But he said he couldn't provide proof until the election is over.
Rutherford initially promised to release the findings of an investigation into the issue but an attorney advised him to stay silent.
Rutherford faces state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard and businessman Bruce Rauner in the March 18 primary.

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