Trump-Endorsed Darren Bailey on June 28 won the six-way Illinois Republican gubernatorial primary election. He will face Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, in the fall.
Bailey drew 57 percent of the vote as of 10:57 p.m. on Tuesday, easily defeating the other Republicans in the race.
A third-generation farmer and two-term state senator, Bailey runs on a conservative platform to fully free the state from COVID restrictions, protect the rights of the unborn, and support the Second Amendment.
A staunch critic of Pritzker’s COVID mandates, Bailey filed the state’s first lawsuit challenging the governor’s pandemic executive orders and was granted a temporary restraining order.
He has also long condemned the Chicago Democratic machine’s outsized influence on state politics. Having signed off a resolution to kick Chicago out of Illinois two years ago, Bailey now runs to save the largest midwestern city from what he calls destructive liberal ideas, according to his speeches on the campaign trail.
Just two days before the primary, former President Donald Trump endorsed Bailey at a rally for U.S. Rep. Mary Miller in Mendon, Ill. In return, Bailey voiced his support for a potential 2024 Trump presidential run.
Bailey received $9 million, the lion’s share of his campaign funds, from Republican billionaire Richard Uihlein, according to campaign filings maintained by the Illinois Board of Elections.
Bailey also got a boost from the Uihlein-supported independent expenditure committee “People Who Play By the Rules.” Under the law, such committees must act independently from candidates.
Uihlein gave $8 million to the committee, whose expenditures all went to communications (mailers, TV ads, digital ads, and so on) opposing one-time frontrunner Richard Irvin, according to committee filings with the state.
Meanwhile, according to multiple media outlets, the Pritzker-supported Democratic Governors Associations has spent tens of millions of independent dollars in the Republican primary to prop up Bailey, the rationale being that Pritzker could easily beat pro-Trump Bailey in a blue state like Illinois.
Richard Irvin, mayor of the state’s second-largest city and a former prosecutor, ran on a moderate Republican platform to drive down crime rates, balance the state budget, and clean the corruption-plagued statehouse.
In contrast with Bailey, Irvin does not publicly align himself with Trump. Though pressed multiple times on the campaign trail, Irvin did not disclose whom he voted for in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
Irvin received a whopping $50 million from Illinois’s richest man and mega Republican donor Ken Griffin, according to filings with the state. The Irvin campaign was managed by the same team that had elected moderate Republican Bruce Rauner as Illinois governor in 2015.
A longtime frontrunner until around May, Irvin’s ratings dropped significantly during the last stretch of the primary battle. The drop came after Pritzker spent tens of millions on ads attacking Irvin in the GOP primary, scores of inconsistencies surfaced between Irvin’s mayoral records and campaign stances, and Irvin’s questionable involvement in his girlfriend’s assault case was publicized by the local media.
Weeks after Irvin plummeted in polls, Griffin announced that he was moving his multinational hedge fund firm Citadel from Chicago to Miami.
The six-way GOP gubernatorial primary also included venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, former military lawyer Paul Schimpf, businessman Gary Rabine, and private attorney Max Solomon.
Gov. Pritzker faced no serious challenger in the Democratic primary. A billionaire member of the family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain, Pritzker contributed $90 million to his reelection campaign in January, according to a quarterly report published by the Illinois Board of Elections.