Rauner, Pritzker to meet for first debate Thursday night

Democrat J.B. Pritzker and Gov. Bruce Rauner

CHICAGO (AP) – Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker are meeting for their first debate of the Illinois governor’s race.

Rauner is trying to win a second term against Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune who’s never held public office. Polls have shown Pritzker with a healthy lead.

Also participating in Thursday’s debate will be Conservative Party candidate and state Sen. Sam McCann and Libertarian Grayson “Kash” Jackson.

Pritzker has blasted Rauner, saying his insistence on pushing a pro-business, anti-union agenda led to a yearslong state budget impasse.

Rauner says Pritzker wants to raise taxes on Illinois residents. He’s also criticized Pritzker’s links to House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Thursday’s debate is sponsored by NBC 5, Telemundo, the Union League Club of Chicago and Chicago Urban League.