Ahead of the Illinois primary election in late June, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, invested heavily in the gubernatorial campaign of Republican State Senator Darren Bailey — presumably under the belief that Bailey would prove an easier-to-defeat opponent in the general election. As RedState’s Bob Hoge noted at the time:
Meanwhile, Pritzker cruised to victory in the Democratic primary, earning a whopping 92.3 percent of the vote, as of this writing. He used a tactic familiar to those of us in California—candidates spend heavily to promote their preferred opponent because they believe they can easily defeat them in the general election. Pritzker reportedly “spent millions trying to get the rival he want[ed] and increase[d] his already sizable advantage in the state this fall.”
Bailey, a farmer from Xenia, received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and is strongly pro-life, a position which Pritzker believes he can use against Bailey:
Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune who is seeking his second term, and the Democratic Governors Association spent heavily on advertising to help Bailey win the GOP primary, including with ads noting he is “100% pro-life.”
Bailey, though, intends to fight:
“We’re going to send a message to the Republican establishment that we will not be bullied into sacrificing our principles to elect their candidates,” he told a crowd at a campaign stop in rural Illinois this month.
Our Cameron Arcand caught up with Bailey for an interview in mid-July. When asked about his appeal to rural communities, Bailey pointed out how that’s also a winning message for Chicago’s urban-dwellers:
I think that’s the reason I faced so much opposition in the primary because I’ve been very vocal about the fact that Illinois would be better served you know emulating a model much like Indiana does where we spread opportunity across the state and we grow the entire state instead of the Northern part. The reality is that for years, Southern Illinois was served mainly by farming, coal, and oil. And interestingly enough, the Democrats are taxing it out of existence. They’re regulating oil out of existence. And then they turn around and wonder why our energy bills have doubled and why we’re going to experience rolling blackouts and brownouts this summer.
They wondered why gas and diesel now are over $6. It’s because we’re not producing them. We have these natural resources here, and when you make bad decisions, there are consequences. But just as important is the fact that the people in Chicago are frustrated too. They’re not being well represented.
Life for the typical resident in Chicago is much more constricted than it is for people throughout the rest of the state. Their rent, their taxes, their food, and even their gas are a lot more expensive than it is throughout the state because of the needless taxes and regulations that they have. So I think that my model of governing is the exact model that got me here to this place. It’s communicating hope and ideas and a better future to the people… So when they have this guy show up, who’s got this Southern accent, who’s a farmer, who’s four hours south, they seem to be intrigued and they listen.
Three months out from the general election, Pritzker is wasting no time in going on offense against Bailey. He’s airing an attack ad, in which he accuses Bailey of “taking government money.” “Guess who’s really paying for Darren Bailey’s campaign for governor?” the ad asks.
As noted by Inside Elections analyst Jacob Rubashkin, that takes some chutzpah, coming from the guy who spent $24 million in the primary himself in support of Bailey.
Quite the chutzpah from J.B. Pritzker — who spent $24 million in the GOP primary to defeat Richard Irvin and help Darren Bailey — to run a campaign ad that begins: "Guess who's really paying for Darren Bailey's campaign for governor?"
(The answer, apparently, is "you") pic.twitter.com/Lb7sRZF9kC
— Jacob "Inside Elections is hiring" Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) August 2, 2022
Bailey has now released a blistering response. In a two-and-a-half-minute video (no grainy photos, no “special effects”), Bailey stares straight into the camera and gives an unabashed defense of his business, his experience, and the working people of Illinois.
Friends, I wanted to take a moment to address out-of-touch billionaire J.B.’s latest attack. Get this: J.B. Pritzker has the gall to run a TV ad attacking me for running a business and doing whatever it takes to keep people employed during tough times.
J.B. Pritzker, you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You inherited billions of dollars from your family. You have millions stashed away on islands that most folks have never heard of, let alone visited. You’ve never woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, worrying about keeping a job or managing payroll. You’ve literally never worked a day in your life. And you’re criticizing me for how I run my farm? How dare you?
You’re the trust fund kid on the school playground, pushing all the regular kids around and making fun of their bagged lunches. You’re the guy who ignores the speed limit on your custom-made, one-of-a-kind boat while the rest of us worry about the price of gas.
Let me tell you what a hard day’s work looks like. It’s waking up before the sun comes up to pack 18 hours of hard physical labor into a single day during harvest. It’s putting on your work boots, running tractors, plowing fields, and bandaging up calloused hands so that you can wake up the following day and do it all over again. It’s worrying about crops when the weather is too dry, too wet, too hot, or too cold. It’s exhaustion in every bone in your body but knowing that people and jobs depend on you to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
All over Illinois there are people like me — farmers, yes, but also truck drivers, plumbers, electricians, grocery workers, mechanics, and so many others who put in the hours and sweat to provide for their families. These regular working folks make our state great and they’ll be the driving force behind our state’s recovery. People like you and your Gold Coast friends are running our home into the ground.
Governor Pritzker, you’re spending millions of dollars of your family’s money to attack me for how I run my business — the business that I built with my own two hands. You set around with your soft hands, laughing with your snooty friends at the downstate farmer who thinks that he can make a difference. Well, you got one thing wrong: I don’t think I can make a difference — I know I can make a difference. Because I know what it takes to work hard and build something…and you don’t have a clue.
Pritzker may believe he set up a straw man to knock down in November, but Bailey is showing he’s made of sterner stuff.