Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Heat Up Radio Waves - and Each Other

By Doubek, Madeleine | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 18, 1998 | Go to article overview

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Heat Up Radio Waves - and Each Other


Doubek, Madeleine, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Madeleine Doubek Daily Herald Political Editor

Democratic gubernatorial candidates began to slice and dice each other a bit Tuesday night as they carved out differences on schools, guns, toll roads and abortion in their first broadcast debate.

With less than a month left to break out of the pack before the March 17 primary, the four major candidates were their most aggressive as they attacked each other's positions and records during an hour-long exchange on WMAQ-AM's "Cameron and Langford" show.

Former Justice Department official John Schmidt suggested downstate Congressman Glenn Poshard was "to the right of (GOP candidate) George Ryan" on abortion because he once supported an amendment to ban them except to save a mother's life.

But Poshard retorted his three opponents were the ones "way out" of the mainstream because he said, they support taxpayer funding for "abortion on demand."

Former Attorney General Roland Burris has been leading Poshard, Schmidt and former U.S. Attorney Jim Burns in published polls, but it was Poshard and Schmidt who most frequently found themselves on the defensive during the debate that sometimes resembled a "McLaughlin Group" television show with everyone talking at once.

The format called for the candidates to question each other so Schmidt immediately tried to suggest Poshard still was supporting a school funding plan offered up more than a decade ago that Schmidt claimed would result in an 80 percent income tax increase.

Poshard scoffed at that suggestion, but did say both he and Schmidt supported Gov. Jim Edgar's failed bid last year to increase income taxes 25 percent along with an accompanying property tax cut.

"You supported the very same plan that I supported for exchanging the property tax for the state income tax," Poshard said, chiding Schmidt. "I'm not going to duck these issues. Of course, I support a $400 million tax increase."

That exchange gave Burns, who with Burris has said he opposes higher taxes for schools, an opportunity to reprimand his opponents for not spending more time talking about ways to restore discipline and accountability within the school system, but he did not detail those concepts for listeners.

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