Bailey to Pritzker after winning GOP nomination: “Start packing, friend”

Sen. Darren Bailey walks onto the stage with his wife Cindy after winning the Illinois...
Sen. Darren Bailey walks onto the stage with his wife Cindy after winning the Illinois Republican primary for governor.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 12:06 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Sen. Darren Bailey will face Gov. JB Pritzker in the November general election. Bailey had a huge victory Tuesday night, receiving nearly 60% of the Republican vote. He celebrated with family, friends, and a few hundred supporters at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham, Illinois.

The downstate Republican walked out to a raucous reception from his supporters just before 9 p.m. Bailey quickly told them that their voices were finally heard.

Bailey believes this win is a clear message to the political establishment of both parties that regular people will not be ignored. Millions of dollars were spent in this campaign by the richest man in Illinois, Ken Griffin, who funded Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.

While Irvin ended up in third place, many will reflect on the millions spent by Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association in attack ads against Irvin and Bailey. Although, some argue Pritzker meddled in the GOP primary by doing so.

Bailey told supporters he could not have won without grassroots support from across the state.

“The hard work of this campaign is only just the beginning,” Bailey said. “And I can promise you this, I will work circles around Pritzker. And with your help, we will win again in November.”

The Republican said Pritzker should start packing, which was met with a round of applause from his fans. Bailey also borrowed a line from former president Donald Trump, who endorsed the senator on Saturday, when he said Pritzker will be fired in November.

Bailey’s running mate, former conservative radio talk show host Stephanie Trussell said this election should be a sign of new leadership taking over Springfield.

“They don’t care about our families,” Trussell said about current state leaders. “It’s time to put the days of slick politicians and billionaire elites who don’t understand our problems behind us.”

Bailey later told reporters that he heard from several of his competitors in the governor’s race Tuesday night. He said many were willing to unite to beat Pritzker in November.

Illinois GOP chairman Don Tracy was also at the election watch party to congratulate Bailey. Tracy said this was not an overnight victory because Darren has been fighting hard for two years.

“Darren Bailey is a man of deep integrity who has spent his time in elected office taking on the Illinois status quo and championing the rights and interests of taxpayers, small businesses, and parents,” Tracy said. “Who better than a farmer and blue-collar businessman like Darren Bailey to take on a failed trust-fund billionaire in JB Pritzker.”

Trump campaign advisor Steve Cortes told Republicans at the event that they should be optimistic the state could turn red this year. Cortes had been on the campaign trail with Bailey for several weeks and convinced Trump to endorse the eastern Illinois farmer.

“Illinois is absolutely in play,” Cortes said. “The Democrats assume that they have this locked up. But they shouldn’t assume that.”

Meanwhile, Bailey said Irvin was the only candidate who had not contacted him Tuesday night. The Irvin campaign was quick to blame their loss on Pritzker’s record-setting spending in the GOP primary. Still, Irvin wished Bailey well in his concession speech.

“Pritzker stopped us from winning tonight, but he couldn’t stop us from changing hearts and minds around this state,” Irvin said.

The moderate Republican also noted that his campaign gave a voice to law enforcement and taxpayers across the state. No matter the candidate, he wants Republicans to hold Pritzker accountable for decisions the Democratic governor has made during his first term in office. Irvin also thanked his running mate, Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville), for her dedication throughout the campaign.

“We must all fight, not simply for what we want today, but for the future prosperity that is owed to the State of Illinois tomorrow, and every day after,” Irvin said. “Let this hour be remembered as the time we all decided to rise up and take back our state.”

Irvin’s campaign spent $30 million on television ads, while the Democratic Governors Association, Pritzker, and billionaire Dick Uihlein spent $59.3 million in ads attacking the Aurora mayor.

After Bailey declared victory, Pritzker’s campaign team said the senator has shown he is more focused on appeasing the twice-impeached disgraced former president than bringing people together. Campaign spokesperson Natalie Edelstein said Bailey has espoused extreme and dangerous views on nearly every issue of importance to Illinois families.

“His anti-choice, anti-worker, anti-science, anti-democracy opinions would set our state, and our nation, back decades,” Edelstein stated. “Darren Bailey is unfit to lead and his far-right, MAGA stances are out of touch with the vast majority of Illinoisans.”

However, Bailey told supporters that he will never waver under pressure as the campaign looks ahead to November. He stressed that he will never stop fighting for Republicans and the future of Illinois.

Of course, many know that Pritzker and Democratic leaders across the country will work hard to ensure Bailey isn’t elected in the general election. Bailey hinted that he will need more grassroots support to take on the challenge, but he is more than ready to go head-to-head with the current governor.

“We know Gov. Pritzker will spend a lot of money trying to fool you by telling lies about me,” Bailey said. “But, as an out of touch, trust fund, elitist billionaire, wasting money and trying to fool working people, is what he does best.”

The Democratic Party of Illinois quickly noted that the former president and his supporters have taken over the state’s Republican party. DPI Chair Rep. Robin Kelly said Democrats have been focused on defending reproductive healthcare, combatting gun violence, creating good-paying jobs, protecting the environment, promoting workers’ rights, and lowering costs for Illinoisans. Meanwhile, Kelly said Bailey, Rep. Mary Miller, and GOP Attorney General nominee Tom DeVore have fallen over themselves for Trump’s endorsement while spreading the “big lie” and downplaying the January 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol.

“The Illinois Republican Party has moved further to the right than ever before, abandoning moderate voters while fully embracing conspiracy theories, extremist policies, and fringe positions,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately for the ILGOP, Illinoisans have overwhelmingly rejected Trump twice now, and there is no question that Trump, his followers, and the MAGA agenda are simply unacceptable to the vast majority of Illinois voters.”

Darren and Cindy Bailey voted inside a rustic building in Oskaloosa Township Tuesday morning that was previously the gymnasium for a schoolhouse he went to for elementary school. He said it was special to vote for himself inside a building down the street from his family farm.

Bailey felt great about his chance to win the primary and said his campaign did a lot of work to gain support. He admitted that election day was a “bit of a breather” because he didn’t have to be out on the campaign trail and could just wait to see results roll in.

The 2022 general election is on November 8.

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