Quinn, Rauner Square Off Over Minimum Wage

(CBS) – Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, disagreed Tuesday night about how to raise the Illinois minimum wage and accused each other of neglecting the African-American community, during a televised debate in Chicago.

Rauner found himself in the hot seat first, under questioning from a panel of reporters that included CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine, Corilyn Shropshire of the Chicago Tribune and Perri Small of WVON. Rauner says he does employ African Americans in key positions in the companies he controls, but did not provide figures.

The North Shore businessman said he’s been a big supporter of the black community and, in his opening remarks, acknowledged several of his African-American political allies.

“Gov. Quinn is taking the African-American vote for granted,” Rauner said.

Quinn, questioned about his administration’s dealings with African-American businesses, said he has “opened up the doors to many more contracts” for minority vendors.

On the issue of raising the Illinois minimum wage, Quinn said he supports increasing it from $8.25 an hour to at least $10 an hour by Jan. 1.

“You work hard –you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Quinn said.

Rauner says he’d prefer the national minimum wage be raised, so that Illinois is on an even playing field with other states. But under questioning from Levine, the Republican said he would support a state wage hike in exchange for “pro-business reforms” that include changes in worker’s compensation laws.

Rauner chided Quinn for not getting a Democratic-controlled Legislature to send him a wage-increase measure.

In other issues, Rauner was pressed twice on whether he would support a ban on assault rifles. He would not say but indicated such a ban would not pass constitutional muster.

Quinn said he supports an assault weapon ban and limiting the capacity of gun magazines.

“My opponent wants to legalize assault weapons. I don’t,” Quinn said.

There were no major surprises. More broadly, Quinn continued trying to paint Rauner as an out-of-touch millionaire who is more concerned about growing his own personal wealth. Rauner tried to characterize Quinn as “the worst governor in America.”

The race is considered tight between Quinn, a Chicago Democrat who seeks his second full term in office, and Rauner, a businessman from the North Shore, who won the GOP nomination during a crowded primary earlier this year.

Tuesday night’s debate, co-hosted by CBS 2, the Chicago Urban League and the Business Leadership Council and held at the DuSable Museum of African American History on Chicago’s South Side, was the second televised forum between the major-party candidates and the first in Chicago.  This week’s forum focused in part on issues facing the African-American community.

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