Democratic Debate Tonight Analysis Essay

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The Democratic governor candidates will meet tonight for a forum broadcast live on WBEZ-FM 91.5, their first since Kenilworth businessman Chris Kennedy missed a downstate debate last week with a bad back.

The 6 p.m. event comes a day after billionaire entrepreneur J.B. Pritzker aired a new TV ad criticizing University of Illinois tuition hikes during Kennedy's tenure leading the school's board.

And a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll released Wednesday showed Pritzker leading the race with 31 percent, while state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston was at 21 percent and Kennedy at 17 percent. A quarter of primary voters surveyed were undecided ahead of the March 20 primary.

The three leading candidates have been on the attack lately, with the election less than three weeks away and early voting already humming along.

WBEZ anchor Melba Lara will moderate today's forum, and all six candidates are scheduled to attend, according to the station. It will be broadcast live on the radio until 7 p.m., and 30 minutes of audience questions will stream online after that.

About 24 hours later, the Democrats will meet again to debate on ABC-7 live in Friday prime time, in what might be their highest-profile matchup of the primary campaign.


What's on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no public events.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner will read to children at a Springfield school.

*Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will appear at a Women's History Month event downtown.

*The Illinois House and Senate are in session. 


From the notebook

*Quick spin: Troy LaRaviere, a former Chicago Public Schools principal and President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, endorsed Chris Kennedy for governor. LaRaviere is exploring a run for mayor next year.


What we're writing

*Emanuel vows to push ahead on $8.5 billion O'Hare expansion as American Airlines decries "secret deal."

*Illinois lawmakers vote to license gun retailers, ban "bump stocks," restrict assault weapons sales. Rauner doesn't commit.

*The tragic 7-year journey of a "Baby Glock" from a Wisconsin gun shop to the slaying of Cmdr. Paul Bauer.

*Assessor Berrios heads to court to keep tax lawyers' campaign contributions flowing.

*"Going rate" to buy a job in Dorothy Brown's office? $10,000, employee tells feds.

*After emotional testimony from opponents, Chicago school board OKs closings and consolidation.

*Illinois lawmakers' sexual harassment prevention proposals keep oversight in leaders' hands.

*City Council approves $20 million settlement in drunken fatal off-duty cop crash.

*SIU poll: Rauner, Pritzker lead governor races.

*City Treasurer Summers: Use city's investment portfolio to fight climate change, promote social progress


What we're reading

*With prosecution on shaky ground, Schock's lawyers argue vague rules led to corruption charges.

*What a twist: Chicago Spire developer seeks $1.2 billion, years after losing control of site.

*Berghoff to add microbrewery to iconic Loop restaurant.

*Subaru at 50: How all-wheel drive, a flat engine and good timing prevailed in the U.S.


Follow the money

*Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy reported nearly $140,000 in contributions, including $100,000 from former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

*Former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn reported $137,100 in contributions toward his attorney general bid. 

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.


Beyond Chicago

*Trump communication director Hicks to resign.

*Trump hits AG Sessions on Twitter.

*Dick's Sporting Goods drops sales of assault weapons.

*Billy Graham lies in honor at Capitol.

A question about the Supreme Court allowed each candidate to lay our sharply different visions about the future direction of the judiciary.

“I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works,” Mrs. Clinton said, preferably lawyers with trial experience rather than the more elite corporate lawyers and former judicial law clerks who have been prevalent among recent nominees.

She criticized the conservative majority that has dominated the Supreme Court in recent decades, saying it had taken the law “in the wrong direction.” She suggested she would seek nominees likely to overrule some of the court’s most conservative decisions of recent years, including the 2010 Citizens United opinion that lifted limits on corporate and union political spending, and a 2013 decision eliminating federal supervision of electoral regulations in states that historically discriminated against minority voters.

Mrs. Clinton said she would immediately move to fill the high court vacancy left by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and criticized Senate Republicans for refusing to act on President Barack Obama’s nominee, U.S. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland. She did not say, however, whether she would renominate Judge Garland.

Mr. Trump’s campaign has listed nearly two dozen conservative judges he would consider for appointment to the Supreme Court.

“I am looking to appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ve actually picked 20 of them so that people would see,” he added, saying they were “very beautifully reviewed by just about everybody.” That would not include Mrs. Clinton, who said judges on the Trump list could vote to overrule decisions recognizing abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Mr. Trump responded to Mrs. Clinton’s view of the Citizens United decision by criticizing her for failing to put some of her own wealth into her campaign, thereby indebting her to donors funding the presidential run. He added that the Second Amendment was “totally under siege by people like Hillary Clinton.”

“I respect the Second Amendment,” Mrs. Clinton replied, but added that she supported “comprehensive background checks” for firearms buyers.

--Jess Bravin

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