GOP Governor's Race Gets Started

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Krol Daily Herald Staff Writer

The Republican governor's race got a jump-start Sunday as the three contenders squared off for the first time at a suburban forum and two candidates opened their pocketbooks to air the first television ads of the campaign.

Attorney General Jim Ryan, Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood and state Sen. Patrick O'Malley avoided both criticizing each other and offering many specifics to several hundred Republicans gathered in a posh club along Lake Michigan at the New Trier Township GOP's fall dinner.

The candidates' tentative restart to the GOP governor's contest took the form of 15-minute statements from all three that were supposed to touch on education, promise-keeping and the role of state government in responding to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Elmhurst's Ryan touted the anti-terrorism legislation he plans to explain Tuesday. Ryan also talked about his accomplishments and said his two terms as attorney general have provided him with experience in key areas like child abuse, domestic violence and fighting crime.

"You elect me governor, and I will work hard, I will get results and I will stay honest," said Ryan, who also reiterated a pledge to tie school funding to accountability.

Lake Forest's Wood talked about education and the economy. She wants tougher teacher certification tests, more evaluation of students' progress and more competition among schools, including an expanded tax credit for parents to send children to private schools if their local public schools are failing.

O'Malley, of southwest suburban Palos Park, said he provides Republicans the best chance to win the November election because he's the reform candidate who will never raise taxes. …