Bailey wins GOP nomination to challenge Pritzker

State Sen. Darren Bailey, who gained statewide notoriety challenging the authority of Gov. JB Pritzker’s pandemic executive order in court, will be the incumbent’s challenger in the November general election.

By 9 p.m. Tuesday, Bailey had won more than 55% of the GOP vote out of a field of six candidates, while tallies were unofficial.

“Tonight, our movement sent a clear message to the establishment and political elites: We will not be ignored,” Bailey said in a victory speech just before 9 p.m.

Bailey, a farmer from southern Xenia state, won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump over the weekend. He jumped late in the race behind at least $17 million in funding — either directly into his campaign fund or political action committees attacking his opponent — from Republican megadonor and shipping tycoon Richard Uihlein.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, the early front-runner in the race who received $50 million from fellow GOP megadonor, Citadel founder Ken Griffin, conceded around 8:25 p.m.

The billionaire benefactor battle that ended with Bailey’s nomination drew national attention, largely because a campaign committee that received funding from Pritzker — the Democratic Governors Association — spent about $26 million to influence the Republican primary, largely on ads attacking Irvin and emphasizing Bailey’s conservative party. registration.

The Irvin campaign pegged the total anti-Irvin or pro-Bailey spending by Democrats at around $36 million, with the Pritzker campaign spending $6.5 million and the Illinois Democratic Party spending $3.6 million. millions of dollars.

In a concession speech Tuesday night, Irvin wished Bailey well, later saying, “The Republican Party should be a party of politicians, not personalities.”

“You know, our track record, our record and our message were so compelling, so likely to win in November, JB Pritzker and the Democratic Party spent the most money in history…meddling in a Republican primary to bring us down,” said Irvin, a combat veteran who would have been the first black candidate for governor of Illinois from either major political party.

As the tides have shifted towards Bailey in recent weeks, Irvin has taken a new line of attack, repeatedly repeating “a vote for Darren Bailey is a vote for JB Pritzker”, arguing that the governor has put his money behind Bailey because he judged him as the weakest candidate.

Earlier in the campaign, Bailey did not disagree with the view that Pritzker viewed him as a weak candidate, but he cautioned Pritzker to “be careful what you wish for.” He has declared his intention to reshape the state’s GOP into a more conservative entity, including endorsing key challengers from incumbent Republican lawmakers.

“We’re all here because we know Illinois is in trouble,” Bailey said Tuesday night. “Decade after decade of mismanagement in Springfield. Back-to-back billionaire governors who don’t understand the struggles of working people. And where has that gotten us? Nowhere.”

Jesse Sullivan, a venture capitalist from Petersburg who, along with Irvin, held about 15% of the GOP primary vote as of 9 p.m., said he called Bailey Tuesday night to say he was happy to lose to a man of faith.

“Now it’s up to us to get behind Darren and make sure we try to beat JB Pritzker,” he said.

Bailey’s nomination sets up a contest for the general election pitting Pritzker’s progressive background against a candidate who is far to the right of the state’s former Republican leadership.

Pritzker, meanwhile, touted Illinois’ stronger fiscal position since becoming governor, pointing to a $1 billion contribution to the state’s “rainy day” fund, an additional pension payment $500 million above statutory levels and approximately $900 million spent to repay other interest. – accumulate health insurance debts.

“Four years ago I told you we would reverse the fiscal damage that Bruce Rauner did to this state that I would end his budget hijacking, undo his credit downgrades and improve our state’s finances. “, said Pritzker in a Tuesday evening. speech that ended just before 10 p.m. “Today we have had four balanced budgets in four years. We put $1 billion into the state’s rainy day fund. We have reduced our state pension liabilities and have now received six credit increases. »

Bailey is expected to continue her criticism of Pritzker on issues of rising crime, high taxes and support for law enforcement, while abortion rights will also be a central issue.

During his first term, Pritzker signed a sweeping abortion rights bill, the Reproductive Health Act, as well as legislation repealing a law requiring abortion providers to notify parents of a minor child wishing to have an abortion.

He is also calling a special session of the General Assembly in the coming weeks to focus on legislation protecting access to abortion, a move he announced moments after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. rendered a decision reversing the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

On Tuesday night, the governor led his supporters in a chant of “we’re not going back.”

Bailey, on the other hand, is a conservative who opposes abortion rights and has been endorsed by some of the state’s most prominent anti-abortion groups.

The pair’s prior disagreements over pandemic response and executive authority will also likely play a role in the campaign, as will Trump’s endorsement of Bailey and rising inflation and gas prices in national scale.

Pritzker touted his response to the pandemic Tuesday night, his support for marijuana legalization and added funding for state police and violence prevention programs.

He also gave a window into the line of attack he would employ in the coming months against the candidate his dollars helped propagate in the primary.

“A few days ago Donald Trump came to our state and he did what he does best: spit bile on the ground and hope it takes root in our soil. And proudly standing next to him was Republican Illinois gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey,” Pritzker said. “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 the state.”

Pritzker had a nominal primary challenger in the Chicago area, nurse Beverly Miles, but that race was called in Pritzker’s favor about half an hour after polls closed, with Pritzker unofficially winning over 90% of the vote.

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