Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin's entry into the GOP race for Illinois governor is creating quite a stir with the likelihood he's going to receive huge financial backing from billionaire Ken Griffin.
In Irvin's very first one-on-one interview with NBC 5, he bashes Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget proposal and identifies crime as the number one issue in this contest.
Irvin’s Republican credentials have been questioned as he has voted in three recent Democratic primaries, but he disputes that.
"I voted in some down ballot local races to make sure in this Democratic stronghold that I’m in, that we continue with some conservative values here," he said, adding, "let me tell you who agrees I’m a Republican: Barack Obama when he came here and campaigned against me."
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When asked if Donald Trump represents the head of the Republican Party, Irvin did not answer directly but said, "Listen, what we’re talking about here is the state of Illinois. In the state of Illinois, once I become the Republican governor, I’ll be the head of the Republican Party here in Illinois."
Irvin is slamming Pritzker’s budget proposals for one-year tax breaks.
"That’s a complete campaign-year gimmick," Irvin said. "What he’s attempting to do is buy people's votes with money he had nothing to do with. This was a federal bailout."
Irvin’s first campaign commercials focus on crime and claim that as Aurora mayor, Irvin called in the National Guard during civil unrest in 2020, but only the governor has the authority to do that.
"JB Pritzker doesn't know to come to Aurora and address the crime and what was going on with riots and looting, unless I call. So, absolutely I called the National Guard."
As for the coronavirus pandemic, Irvin said he is vaccinated and boosted but does not favor mandates.
"Let me tell you, I think it's important for people to protect themselves by getting vaccinated and boosted if they choose to. I’ve never been one for mandates."
Illinois' richest resident, Ken Griffin, has not made an official announcement that he’s backing Irvin, but it is expected and Griffin may offer as much as $100 million in support for Irvin’s campaign.