CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker will face a bitter Trump-backed rival in the southern state, Sen. Darren Bailey in the gubernatorial race this fall.
Pritzker had only one challenger – Beverly Miles – in the Democratic primary, and he racked up more than 90% of the vote in the preliminary results. Republicans fielded six challengers against Pritzker, but Bailey was a favorite, garnering more than 50% of the vote in the preliminary results.
The Nov. 8 election won’t be the first time Pritzker and Bailey have faced off.
The two lawmakers have been at odds for years, with their hostilities peaking 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 sued. Both trades make spades in the media, with Pritzker accusing Bailey of peddling conspiracy theories while Bailey said Pritzker’s policies are hurting Illinois’ economy and residents. Bailey also refused to wear a mask while occasionally serving in the state legislature.
The feud continued on Tuesday, with Bailey using his victory speech to say Illinois is leaving the state and portraying Pritzker as an out of touch billionaire.
“We know Illinois is in trouble,” Bailey said. “Here’s a tip and some advice for JB Pritzker: start packing, my friend.”
In turn, Pritzker’s campaign criticized Bailey for his support of Trump and for his social policies, pointing out that he is anti-choice, refused to say whether President Joe Biden was legally elected and criticized Chicago.
“Politicians have tried time and time again to divide Illinois for political advantage. … It’s a cheap game that takes little effort,” Pritzker said during his victory speech. “Someone who seeks and accepts the approval of a racist, misogynistic…twice-impeached former president does not deserve to approach the highest office in this state.”
Pritzker described the election as a battle for the soul of Illinois, calling Bailey an “extremist.”
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Bailey, a farmer who lives in Xenia, previously backed an attempted state resolution that would have called for Chicago to become its own state, separate from the rest of Illinois. He backtracked after announcing his candidacy for governor, despite calling Chicago a “hellhole” during his campaign.
Bailey said he was anti-choice on abortion and voted against abortion protections in Illinois. His campaign called for term limits for politicians, and he expressed strong opposition to gun control laws and higher taxes.
Bailey, speaking during his victory speech on Tuesday night, also vowed to remove critical race theory from Illinois schools and said power would be returned to parents in classrooms.
Former President Donald Trump – who also traded insults with Pritzker – endorsed Bailey for the governorship of Illinois over the weekend.
Pritzker’s policies were markedly different.
The governor defended the stay-at-home order that was used at the start of the pandemic, as well as policies such as the phased reopening of Illinois and mask mandates, saying those measures saved lives.
When Roe v. Wade was canceled last week, Pritzker pledged to protect and expand access to abortion and reproductive health care in Illinois.
The governor also focused on raising the state minimum wage; reform its criminal justice system, especially for young people; and improving the state’s credit and economic condition, among others.
Pritzker, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, is based in Chicago. He became governor of Illinois in 2019 after defeating former governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot – who previously mocked Bailey and her support for Trump – called on Illinois to vote for Pritzker in November.
“In Illinois we cannot allow Darren Bailey near the executive office under any circumstances,” Lightfoot said in a tweet. “To protect women, our diverse communities and our mental health – Vote [Pritzker] in November.”
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