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Pritzker To Face Trump-Backed Darren Bailey In Illinois Gov’s Race

Pritzker painted the election as a fight for the soul of Illinois, calling Bailey an "extremist." Bailey criticized Pritzker's COVID-19 policies.

Gov. JB Pritzker will face state Sen. Darren Bailey in this fall's gubernatorial election.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago and Provided
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CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker will face a bitter, Trump-backed rival in downstate state Sen. Darren Bailey in the governor’s race this fall.

Pritzker had just one challenger — Beverly Miles — in the Democratic primary, and he racked up 91.8 percent of the vote in preliminary results. The Republicans fielded six challengers to Pritzker, but Bailey was a frontrunner, collecting 57.5 percent of the vote in preliminary results.

The Nov. 8 election will not be the first time Pritzker and Bailey have faced off.

The two lawmakers have been at odds for years, with their hostilities hitting a peak during the pandemic.

Pritzker implemented the stay at home order in April 2020 in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19, but Bailey criticized the measures and filed a lawsuit. The two trades barbs in the media, with Pritzker accusing Bailey of peddling conspiracy theories while Bailey said Pritzker’s policies hurt Illinois’ economy and residents. Bailey also refused to wear a mask while serving in the state Legislature at times.

The enmity continued Tuesday, with Bailey using his victory speech to say Illinoisans are leaving the state and describing Pritzker as an out-of-touch billionaire.

“We know that Illinois is in trouble,” Bailey said. “Here’s a tip and some advice for JB Pritzker: Start packing, friend.”

In turn, Pritzker’s campaign has criticized Bailey for his support of Trump and for his social policies, highlighting that he is anti-choice, has refused to say if President Joe Biden was lawfully elected and has criticized Chicago.

“Politicians time and again have tried to divide Illinoisans for political advantage. … It’s a cheap play that takes little effort,” Pritzker said at his victory speech. “Someone who seeks out and accepts the endorsement of a racist, misogynist … twice-impeached former president does not deserve to come anywhere near this state’s highest office.”

Pritzker painted the election as a fight for the soul of Illinois, calling Bailey an “extremist.”

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Bailey, a farmer who lives in Xenia, had previously backed an attempted state resolution that would have called for Chicago to become its own state apart from the rest of Illinois. He backtracked on that after announcing his gubernatorial bid, though he called Chicago a “hellhole” during his campaign.

Bailey has said he is anti-choice on abortion and has voted against abortion protections in Illinois. His campaign has called for term limits on politicians, and he has voiced strong opposition to gun control laws and raising taxes.

Bailey, speaking during his victory speech Tuesday evening, also vowed to remove critical race theory from Illinois schools and said power will be returned to parents in classrooms.

Former President Donald Trump — who has also traded insults with Pritzker — endorsed Bailey for Illinois governor over the weekend.

Pritzker’s policies have been markedly different.

The governor has defended the stay at home order that was used at the start of the pandemic, as well as policies like the gradual reopening of Illinois and mask mandates, saying those measures saved lives.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned last week, Pritzker vowed to protect and expand abortion access and reproductive health care in Illinois.

The governor has also focused on raising the state’s minimum wage; reforming its criminal justice system, particularly for youth; and improving the state’s credit and economic situation, among other issues.

Pritzker, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, is based in Chicago. He became governor of Illinois in 2019 after defeating former Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who had previously derided Bailey and his support for Trump — called on Illinoisans to vote for Pritzker in November.

“Illinois, under no circumstance can we allow Darren Bailey anywhere near executive office,” Lightfoot said in a tweet. “To protect women, our diverse communities and our sanity — Vote [Pritzker] in November.”

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