GOP’s Bailey to face Pritzker in Illinois gubernatorial race
Illinois Republicans picked conservative Sen. Darren Bailey on Tuesday to face Governor JB Pritzker, a billionaire who easily won the Democratic nomination and has spent millions trying to get the rival he wants and d increase his already considerable advantage in the state this fall.
Bailey, who beat five other Republicans to win the nomination, is a farmer and a vocal opponent of abortion who received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump on Saturday.
Pritzker immediately framed the race as a referendum on the former president, which Illinois voters twice rejected by double digits. Taking the stage at his victory party, Pritzker told the crowd, “I’m going to beat Donald Trump’s gubernatorial candidate, Darren Bailey.”
“Let’s be clear, someone who seeks and accepts the endorsement of a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, twice impeached former president does not deserve to approach the highest office in this state,” Pritzker said. from a hotel in Chicago.
Bailey has raised her statewide profile during the pandemic by opposing Pritzker’s COVID-19 measures. He sued Pritzker over a stay-at-home order issued by the governor and was escorted off the floor of the Legislative Assembly for refusing to wear a mask.
On Tuesday, Bailey slammed “elites” like Pritzker, the GOP establishment and others who say he can’t win in November. He pledged to outdo his adversary and stand up for the regular workers of Illinois.
“We spent tens of millions of dollars on the primary and look what happened tonight. That’s how it goes,” Bailey said.
He then added, “Here’s a tip and some advice for JB Pritzker: start packing your bags, my friend, because on November 8, you’re fired.”
Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune who is seeking his second term, and the Democratic Governors Association have spent heavily on publicity to help Bailey win the GOP primary, including with ads noting that he is “100 % pro-life”. While those posts have boosted Bailey’s standing with Republican voters, they are likely to hurt him in a general election in a place where Democrats control all state offices and where Trump lost hands down.
Republican Richard Irvin, a former prosecutor who served as the first black mayor of Illinois’ second-largest city, was considered a top contender when he joined the race, with financial backing from billionaire Ken Griffin . Irvin argued that he was the only GOP candidate who could beat Pritzker in November because he could win votes from Republicans, independents and some Democrats. But although Griffin invested $50 million in Irvin’s campaign, he was damaged by repeated attacks from rivals, including Pritzker.
Unlike other GOP candidates, Irvin avoided saying whether he voted for Trump. Aurora’s mayor instead focused on issues like crime in Chicago and legislation Pritzker signed that he said made policing harder. He said he opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.
In a concession speech Tuesday, Irvin criticized Pritzker’s “interference” in the primary and wished Bailey well in the general election.
“Look, I hope this governor is wrong in his assessment that he can easily defeat the adversary he paid tens of millions of dollars for. But if that governor is right and he wins easily, we as citizens must rise up,” Irvin said.
Tim Zink, a 70-year-old retiree, wore a National Rifle Association t-shirt as he voted in the northern Illinois town of McHenry for Bailey.
“I just love the way it stands on just about everything,” Zink said. He added that he didn’t trust Irvin, whom he called “two-faced” and “friends with Pritzker.”
Joe Bernstein, of Highland Park, in the northern suburbs of Chicago, voted for Pritzker: “So far, I think he is doing a good job.”
The other Republican candidates are business owner Gary Rabine, venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, former senator Paul Schimpf and attorney Max Solomon.
Pritzker beat out a much lesser-known rival, Beverly Miles, for the nomination.
Associated Press/Report for America reporter Claire Savage contributed to this report.