By Jay Levine

(CBS) – The gloves came off Friday afternoon during the first meeting between the two major-party candidates for Illinois governor.

The teacher-union audience was a lot friendlier to Gov. Pat Quinn, who knew what buttons to push; he didn’t hesitate to push them.

“I’m not going to charter-ize this system of education in Illinois,” he told the crowd.

Right off the bat, Quinn got to the issue closest to the statewide Illinois Education Association’s heart. The incumbent never mentioned his opponent – Republican Bruce Rauner — by name.

Except to say: “I’m running against a billionaire over there.”

And he got help from Union President Cynda Klickna, who asked Rauner about his criticism of state employee union political contributions.

But Rauner never backed down.

But the GOP candidate, like his infamous $18 watch, took a licking, and kept on ticking, trying to capitalize on the teachers’ opposition to pension reform.

Predictably, Quinn blasted the Stuart Levine connection to Rauner’s teacher pension fund contract.

When it was over, the candidates shook hands, and met separately with reporters.

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