After Bailey surges to primary victory, battle with Pritzker looms
Conservative Republican Darren Bailey is headed for an election showdown with Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker this fall after trouncing rival Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and upending expectations in Tuesday's primary.
With nearly 79% of ballots counted, Bailey, a farmer from Xenia, had 57.4% of the votes, according to unofficial tallies. The Associated Press has called the race.
Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg had 15.7% of the tally for the party's nomination.
Early favorite Irvin, a moderate supported by GOP establishment leaders, received 15% as the party's nominee for governor.
"Tonight your voices were finally heard," Bailey said at a celebration in Effingham. "Voices from the farms, the suburbs and the city of Chicago. Tonight our voices send a clear message to the establishment and the political elite that we will not be ignored."
"We were outspent by 10s of millions of dollars in the primary and look what happened tonight. This is how it's done. Our movement is growing. When people show up in November like you showed up tonight, we will win. And here's some advice for J.B. Pritzker. Start packing, friend.
"We know that Illinois in trouble. 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."
Irvin thanked supporters and said "we are victorious for daring to step into the arena. We dared to step into the arena to force the issues we care about.
"As the grandson of a slave, I'm a winner just by being a competitor for governor in the great state of Illinois. I wish Darren Bailey well."
Other candidates in the race had the following results: McHenry County business owner Gary Rabine with 6.7% and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo with 4.3%. Tallies were not yet available for Hazel Crest attorney Max Solomon.
This year, Illinois shifted its primary date from March to June, resulting in a longer campaign that was also more vitriolic and expensive with millions spent on negative ads, experts said.
Irvin's campaign was shadowed by skepticism about his Republican credentials and ethics questions that Irvin dismissed as false or originating from Democrats. Bailey's solid conservatism struck a chord with base voters from refusing to wear a face mask during a 2020 General Assembly session to suing the state over COVID-19 mitigations.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Bailey Saturday at a downstate rally, which also galvanized Republicans.
Donations loomed large in the campaign with Citadel Corp. owner Ken Griffin contributing $50 million to Irvin.
On the Democratic side, preliminary totals showed incumbent Pritkzer easily batting off a challenge from Chicago nurse Beverly Miles with 91.8% of votes cast.
Pritzker told a crowd in Chicago the state was on track after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Today we stand as a leader in the Midwest for handling the pandemic. Together, we followed the science. We made tough decisions, saving thousands of lives with masks and vaccinations during the deadliest months of the pandemic."
Spokeswoman Natalie Edelstein foreshadowed an edgy election season saying, "from calling Chicago a 'dysfunctional hellhole' to saying the overturning of Roe v Wade was a 'welcomed moment,' Bailey ... is more focused on appeasing (Trump) than bringing Illinoisans together."