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Big Red vs. Big Rod

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 3, 2006 12:26PM

After quibbling about who would wear what color suit, how big the podiums had to be, and when, where, and how they would exclude the Green Party candidate, Judy Baar Topinka and Rod Blagojevich finally had their first debate. And what an event it was, with each accusing the other of lying about everything from state contracts and patronage to property taxes and job growth.

While Topinka said that her education plan wouldn’t expand gambling (even though it would), and Blagojevich mentioned a vague plan about how he would hold down electricity rates, the two spent most of the debate taking jabs at each other for corruption, both real and perceived.

Big Red tried to hammer Big-Gift-avich about questionable hiring practices, campaign finance shenanigans, and a new report that hit the news yesterday suggesting that the Governor got a special break on his property taxes. The Governor called her a liar.

This debate had the potential to be a gain for Topinka, and a lot was riding on it. She has consistently trailed in the polls behind her better-funded, better-backed Democratic rival. While Rod “Sign On the Dotted Line” Blagojevich has been able to saturate the airwaves with advertising, Topinka has only had a fraction of the advertising. Even with W. behind her, she still hasn’t closed the gap.

Even though she has proposed no tax increases and moderate efforts at maintaining a status quo on social services -- all popular issues with Downstate voters -- unless something dramatic happens in this race in the next 5 weeks, Big Red has a heck of a hill to climb.