Waving to a crowd of supporters while the Brooks & Dunn song "Hard Workin' Man," played in the background, State Sen. Darren Bailey clinched the Republican Nomination for Illinois Governor in the 2022 Illinois Primary Election on Tuesday.
Bailey on November 8 will face Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker in the General Election.
With 98% of precincts reporting, Bailey received 57% of the vote. Trailing far behind Bailey is Republican candidate Jesse Sullivan, with only 16% of the vote.
"Bless you," Bailey told a crowd chanting his name. "Thanks be to God, we did it!"
In his acceptance speech, Bailey took aim at Pritzker on numerous fronts, saying that he doesn’t understand the plight of regular Illinoisans and that the Republican’s campaign will focus on making life easier for the state’s residents.
"Illinois is in trouble," Bailey continued. "Decade after decade of mismanagement, and back-to-back billionaire governors who don’t understand the struggles of working people,” he said. “And where has that gotten us? People and businesses leaving Illinois in droves, looking for work, affordable housing, lower taxes and better opportunities. They are leaving because Springfield and the political elites have failed every one of us.”
"Here's a tip for J.B. Pritzker," Bailey continued. "Start packing, friend. Because on November 8, you're fired."
Bailey, who was elected to the state senate from Xenia, received significant downstate support and a coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump in the late stages of the primary cycle.
Bailey, 56, who owns and operates a farm downstate, served in the Illinois House for one term before running for state senate in the 55th district, defeating Democrat Cynthia Given in 2020.
It was during that election cycle that Bailey put himself on the state political radar, suing Pritzker’s administration over its stay-at-home order during the COVID pandemic. He ultimately won a temporary restraining order from a judge in Clay County, but later had the TRO overturned on appeal.
Bailey also found himself in hot water after refusing to wear a mask on the floor of the Illinois House, with lawmakers voting to remove him from the chamber.
Now Bailey and his running mate will face Pritzker and Julianna Stratton in the November election. Pritzker will seek a second term in office, while Bailey will hope to unseat the man that he tangled with in courtrooms throughout the COVID pandemic, filing lawsuits over the governor’s health mitigations and policies.