UPDATED Bailey wins GOP nomination to challenge Pritzker

UPDATED Bailey wins GOP nomination to challenge Pritzker

Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

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

As of about 9 p.m. Tuesday, Bailey had carried over 55 percent of the GOP vote from a field of six candidates, while tallies were unofficial.

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

Bailey, a farmer from downstate Xenia, gained the endorsement of former President Donald Trump over the weekend. He surged late in the race behind at least $17 million in funding – either directly to his campaign fund or to political action committees attacking his opponent – from Republican megadonor and shipping supply magnate Richard Uihlein.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, the early frontrunner in the race who received $50 million from another GOP megadonor, Citadel founder Ken Griffin, conceded at about 8:25 p.m.

The battle of billionaire benefactors which ended in Bailey’s nomination drew national attention, largely because a campaign committee that has received funding from Pritzker – the Democratic Governors Association – spent approximately $26 million to influence the Republican primary, largely on ads attacking Irvin and emphasizing Bailey’s conservative record.

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

In a Tuesday night concession speech, Irvin wished Bailey well, later saying, “the Republican Party must be a party of policies, not personalities.”

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

As the tides shifted toward Bailey in recent weeks, Irvin adopted a new line of attack, repeatedly saying “a vote for Darren Bailey is a vote for JB Pritzker,” arguing that the governor put his dollars behind Bailey because he judged him as the weakest candidate.

Bailey earlier in the campaign didn’t disagree with the take that Pritzker viewed him as a weak candidate, but he warned Pritzker to “be careful what you wish for.” He has stated his intent to reshape the state’s GOP as a more conservative entity, including by endorsing primary challengers of incumbent Republican state lawmakers.

“We’re all here because we know that 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 Petersburg venture capitalist who along with Irvin was carrying about 15 percent of the GOP primary vote as of 9 p.m. said he called Bailey Tuesday night to say he was glad to lose to a man of faith.

“Now it’s all of our job to get behind Darren and make sure that we go and try to beat JB Pritzker,” he said.

Bailey’s nomination sets up a general election contest pitting Pritzker’s progressive track record against a candidate who is far to the right of previous leaders of the state’s Republican party.

Pritzker, meanwhile, has touted Illinois’ firmer fiscal footing since he became governor, pointing to a $1 billion contribution to the state’s “rainy day” fund, an added $500 million pension payment beyond statutory levels and about $900 million spent to pay down other interest-accruing health insurance debts.

“Four years ago I told you that we’d reverse the fiscal damage that Bruce Rauner did to this state that I would end his hostage taking of the budget, reverse his credit downgrades and improve our state’s finances,” Pritzker said in a Tuesday night speech that concluded just before 10 p.m. “Today we’ve had four balanced budgets in four years. We put a billion dollars in the state’s rainy day fund. We reduced our state’s pension liability and now we’ve received six credit upgrades.”

Bailey is expected to continue his criticism of Pritzker over the 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 the parents of a minor child seeking 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 released a decision overturning the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe vs. Wade.

On Tuesday night, the governor led his supporters in a chant of “we will not go back.”

Bailey, by contrast, 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 previous disagreements on pandemic response and executive authority will also likely play a role in the campaign, as will Bailey’s endorsement from Trump and nationwide rising inflation and gas prices.

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

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

“A few days ago, Donald Trump came to our state and he did what he does best – spew bile on the ground and hope that it takes root in our soil. And proudly standing by his side was the Republican nominee for governor of Illinois, Darren Bailey,” Pritzker said. “Let me be clear, someone who seeks out and accepts the endorsement of a racist misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, twice impeached former president does not deserve to come anywhere near the state’s highest office.”

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

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment

Local News


Phony village workers try to rob woman in her home

by Bob Jaderberg From The Reporter A pair of men posing as Oak Lawn village employees attempted to rob a resident last week, according to police. While one man waited in a blue or gray full-sized van, the other reportedly told the elderly resident who lives in the 9100 block of Major Avenue that they…


Accused drunken driver allegedly flees crash scene

Orland Park police arrested Marvin A. Bay-Saquic, 24, of Orland Park, at 6:51 a.m. Jan. 22 and charged him with driving under the influence (DUI), two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield at an intersection, driving without a license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle after he allegedly caused a…


Purse thief suspect charged

by Kevin Olsen staff reporter A 23-year-old Alsip man was arrested on Saturday in Palos Park and charged with strong-arm robbery of a woman’s purse in the Jewel-Osco parking lot on Jan. 26. Patrick Sullivan was subsequently charged with similar thefts and robberies in Palos Heights, Oak Lawn and Hickory Hills. Sullivan was charged with…


Accused drunken driver allegedly turns left on red

Palos Heights police arrested Michael D. Palacz, 21, of Bur-bank, at 12:40 a.m. Jan. 31 and charged him with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and red light violation after he allegedly turned left at a red light at Harlem Avenue and College Drive, police said. His court date is Feb. 23 at the…


Accused drugged driver allegedly drives into tree

Orland Park police arrested Vincent L. Benvenuto, 21, of Orland Park, and charged him with driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia at 10:46 a.m. Jan. 13 after he allegedly drove off the road and hit a tree in the 8300 block of 135th…


Accused burglar arrested

Palos Heights police arrested Kurt R. Westergren, 28, of Oak Forest, at 7:45 p.m. Jan. 25 and charged him with burglary after he was stopped by a custodian as he was allegedly attempting to break into a computer lab of a building in the 6600 block of Highland Drive, police said. It was later determined…


Woman charged with DUI

Palos Heights police arrested Lauren M. Gelecke, 26, of Alsip, at 1:07 a.m. Jan. 10 and charged her with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and disobeying a traffic control device after she was stopped in the 6100 block of West College Drive, police said. Her court date is Jan. 29 at the Cook…


Palos Fire Dist. urges Palos Park require sprinklers in new homes

by Kevin Olsen staff reporter The Palos Park Village Council will decide in the coming months if it will adopt a new life-safety code that will require new construction of single- and two-family residences to have an interior sprinkler system. Palos Fire Protection District Chief Steve Carr on Jan. 11 outlined to the council the…


Teen charged with liquor after crash into boulder

Orland Park police arrested John J. Mulcahy 19, of Orland Park, at 11 p.m. Dec. 23 and charged him with possession and consumption of liquor by a minor, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and possession of cannabis after he lost control of his car and smashed into…

Accused drunken driver charged in fatal crash

by Meg Sullivan staff reporter An Orland Park man was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence (DUI) in a car crash last week that killed his friend, police said. Nick Sord, 22, crashed his car at around 4:20 a.m. last Thursday morning at 147th Street and Oak Park Avenue in unincorporated…


DVN JCs Restoration House Ad

Football: Previously winless Sandburg takes down defending champ Lockport

By Randy Whalen Correspondent A season ago, Sandburg turned its season around after a big loss to Lockport. This year, the Eagles hope their season has turned around after a big win over the Porters. Sandburg was winless coming into the SouthWest Suburban Blue matchup against the defending Class 8A state champions, but pummeled the…

Martin Hopkins, a 2009 St. Rita graduate, will lead the school's football program beginning next season. Supplied photo

Area sports roundup: No drama here, St. Rita grad Hopkins named Mustangs football coach

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer There will be no drama waiting to see who the will coach St. Rita’s football team in 2023. Even though there are four weeks to go in the 2022 regular season, the school last week named Martin Hopkins the successor to Todd Kuska. Kuska, in his 25th season as the…


Football: Evergreen Park edges Reavis in SSC Red

By Steve Millar Correspondent The back-and-forth battle waged against Reavis in Week 5 was the kind of game for which Evergreen Park prepares. It provided the Mustangs a chance to test how they would respond in an intense situation. They passed the test. “Resilience was the key,” Evergreen Park coach Jerry Verde said after the…

Lyons’ James Georgelos goes in for a tackle of York’s Brian Filosa. Photo by Steve Metsch

Football: York hands Lyons first loss of season

By Steve Metsch Correspondent Lyons’ bid for a fifth win and to essentially clinch a playoff spot was put on hold by York and junior running back Jake Melion. Melion, thrust into the RB1 role because of an injury to starter Kelly Watson, ran for three touchdowns in a 27-14 win for the Dukes. Lions…

regional top school palos heights

Palos 118’s West Elementary named National Blue Ribbon School

Palos West Elementary School in Palos Consolidated School District 118 has been named a National Blue Ribbon School award winner by the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made the announcement on September 16. “This is a moment of extreme pride for us here in District 118,” said Supt. Dr. Anthony…

regional ppwc

Palos Park Woman’s Club turns 120

The Palos Park Woman’s Club officially turned 120 years old on August 21, 2022. A celebration was held on that day at the Palos Park Rec Center with approximately 100 people in attendance including members, local dignitaries, family and friends. The Village of Palos Park recently proclaimed August 21 through September 17 as Palos Park…

Northwestern College Summer Quarter Nursing graduates hold lanterns during their Pinning Ceremony, symbolizing the passing of the flame from the founder of professional nursing, Florence Nightingale. (Supplied photo)

Northwestern College holds summer pinning ceremony

Northwestern College’s Violet L. Schumacher School of Nursing held a Pinning Ceremony for its Summer Quarter Nursing graduates on September 8. The ceremony was conducted at the Oak Lawn Public Library’s lower-level conference room, a new location following the college’s recent move from Bridgeview to Oak Lawn. The traditional ceremony marks the formal induction of…

dvn community calendar

Join the Polish American Cultural Club Meetings of the Polish American Cultural Club are held on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at American Legion Post 1941, 900 S. La Grange Road, La Grange. Dues are $20 per year for individual membership and $35 for a family membership. The mission of our…

MVCC Halloween 5k 2015

9th annual Halloween run at Moraine Valley

Grab a costume, dress up the kids and head to the ninth annual Halloween 5K run/walk and Kid’s Dash on Saturday, Oct. 29, 9 a.m., at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills. Participants can walk or run the officially timed 5K (3.1 mile) path throughout campus. The Kid’s Dash will start…

Stagg football players get ready to take on Lincoln-Way West on Friday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pigskin Wrap: Lincoln-Way West blanks Stagg as Chargers go 0-for-Lincoln-Way

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Stagg had just been beaten 36-0 by Lincoln-Way West in a SouthWest Suburban Red matchup in Palos Hills. It was the third consecutive game against a Lincoln-Way team. It was the third consecutive loss. And in this unholy trinity of games, the Chargers were outscored 126-3. Coach Colt Nero is…

DVN Jack Pats Butcher Shop House Ad
Regional Rich Real Estate House Ad