Bill Brady, Pat Quinn Skip Illinois Governor's Debate

Chicago State University will host a debate Thursday night in the hotly contested Illinois governor's race. But neither major party candidate will be attending.

Invited to the debate, but not attending, are the Republican nominee, state Senator Bill Brady, and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. Brady's campaign says he's received dozens of debate invitations already, and has reached out to the Quinn campaign to discuss those requests. Quinn's campaign says the governor has a scheduling conflict in Springfield.

Without Brady and Quinn, the debate will feature third-party candidates seeking the governor's office. Among them is Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate who won 10 percent of the vote in the 2006 governor's race, the highest third-party total of any gubernatorial candidate in the country that year.

Whitney is the only one attending tonight's debate who is guaranteed a spot on the ballot in November.

Other debaters are still hoping to survive challenges to their petition filings with the State Board of Elections. Most prominent among these is Scott Lee Cohen, the one-time Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. After winning the primary in February of this year, Cohen was forced off the ticket following allegations of domestic violence, steroid abuse and other indiscretions.

Cohen is running for governor as an independent, and appears likely to survive a challenge to the petitions he filed, despite rumors of his campaign hiring junkies to circulate the paperwork and then failing to pay them properly.

Independent Bill "Dock" Walls and the candidates from the Libertarian and Constitution parties have also RSVP'd for tonight's event.