Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey won the primary against five opponents, receiving the endorsement of former President Donald Trump in the process, but as he looks to win over independents he’s adjusting some of his message, except when it comes to crime.
In Bailey’s first television interview, conducted at his downstate farm, he says he has confidence no matter what the polls show.
Bailey’s roots are in Xenia, where his a third-generation farmer. He and his sons also run an excavation and trucking business.
While he has been a vocal critic of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID emergency orders, going so far as to file a lawsuit against his stay-at-home order, Bailey did receive federal COVID relief.
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ProPublica first reported that Bailey received nearly $570,000 in PPP loans. The Chicago Tribune also notes there was another $280,000 from the USDA for farmers, and since 1995 his farming operation has received $2.1 million in federal subsidies.
“It is the federal government that’s pretty well in charge of export and import, demand, embargos. They control these prices,” he said.
A farmer and longtime school board member, Bailey also opened his own Christian school in town and ultimately ran for state representative five years ago.
He says he arrived in Springfield “in 2019, the same year as JB Pritzker, there is nothing, there is nothing that is better under JB Pritzker’s watch. It’s a mess.”
Pritzker, a billionaire who spent $171 million in his first election in 2018, describes Bailey as an extremist.
There’s a new television campaign ad that features a woman who had an abortion and is concerned about what a Governor Bailey might do.
“I would let her know first and foremost, women are well protected in the state of Illinois, and this is not going to change,” he said. “Nothing’s going to change anytime soon. Those aren’t issues that divide us. JB Pritzker is fear mongering over just that.”
Previously, Bailey had called for a total ban on abortion, but in recent months he has sought to soften his stance.
Bailey sought out Trump’s endorsement prior to the June Republican primary, but when asked if he wants the former president to come back to Illinois before Nov. 8, the state senator didn’t explicitly ask for a visit.
“President Trump is not on the ballot, I am focused on Illinois,” he said.