CHICAGO - The candidates for Illinois governor sharpened their attacks on each other Thursday, with Gov. Pat Quinn saying Bruce Rauner's plan to tax some services will help wealthy people like Rauner but hurt hardworking families, and the Republican businessman calling Quinn's efforts to address improper political hiring "a charade."
Quinn and Rauner separately addressed a Metropolitan Planning Council forum in Chicago, one of roughly a half dozen joint appearances scheduled before the Nov. 4 election.
While the Labor Day weekend typically marks the start of election season, the bitterly contested race already is well under way.
Quinn paints the multimillionaire Rauner as out-of-touch with the middle class and says he got rich - and bought nine "mansions" - by putting profit ahead of people. Rauner has tried to chip away at Quinn's portrayal of himself as a reformer, saying the Chicago Democrat has continued the cronyism and corrupt practices of his predecessor, now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Rauner hit on that theme again Thursday, saying dozens of people who were improperly hired by the Illinois Department of Transportation because of their political connections still work for the state.
"This already looks like another broken promise from Pat Quinn," Rauner said. "You've got to wonder if this is just another charade."
Last week, an Office of the Executive Inspector General review concluded more than 250 IDOT "staff assistants" got jobs in the past decade based on clout, when the positions should have been publicly available to any candidate and filled based on qualifications.