CHICAGO – In terms of political office, Illinois voters are seeing first-hand what money can buy.
Tens of millions of dollars are being spent by three different megadonors to try to sway the results of the Republican primary for governor of Illinois on Tuesday.
One is the incumbent Democratic billionaire governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, who hasn’t spent all of his personal money on his own campaign.
He is working with the Democratic Governors Association to support ultraconservative Illinois State Senator Darren Bailey, a Republican who received the former president’s support on Saturday, as NPR reported.
With their ads repeating that Bailey’s policies “are just too conservative for Illinois,” Pritzker and the DGA appear to believe that Bailey would be one of the easier Republican candidates to defeat in the November election.
Although it happens frequently, one side sometimes gets involved in the primary of the other.
Republican primary voters in this case appear to be buying into it.
Republican voters hear a hidden message in the Republican ads, and Bailey seems to have welcomed the help to win the tough primary.
“I think it’s obvious Gov. Pritzker thinks I’m the easiest candidate to beat, and my message to Gov. Pritzker is ‘be careful what you wish for because it’s coming right toward you,’ ” Bailey and Illinois ABC TV station. “The people of Illinois are absolutely fed up with the state of our state. They’re ready for something different.”
Darren Bailey backed by Dick Uihlein
Bailey is a southern Illinois grain farmer with a distinct twang in his voice. He has a significant lead in the primary race, according to a poll from NPR member station WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times.
He supports the freedom to bear arms and is against abortion. And it’s clear from his endorsement that he firmly supports Trump.
Despite the fact that he would be in charge of the state’s economic engine as governor, he also frequently criticizes the city of Chicago.
“Let’s just call it like it is. Let’s think about Chicago: A crime-ridden, corrupt, dysfunctional hellhole,” Bailey said at a debate hosted by Chicago TV station WGN.
Bailey even went so far as to support a resolution that would give Chicago its own state inside Illinois. In the Democratic-controlled state legislature, it had little impact.
But Dick Uihlein, a businessman who owns a shipping supply firm by the same name, has learned to appreciate his rhetoric. He has donated more than $9 million to Bailey’s campaign. A group that engaged in the march before to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was supported by Uihlein, a major Republican donor.
Richard Irvin backed by Ken Griffin
GOP voters in Illinois typically back more moderate Republicans who are more similar to Richard Irvin. Irvin is the mayor of Aurora, a suburb of Chicago that gained fame as the setting for the sketch “Wayne’s World” on Saturday Night Live.
Irvin had all the necessary components to run a fiercely contested race in November, in large part because of the $50 million contributions from Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin. Griffin founded and is the CEO of Citadel, a hedge fund company.
Griffin and Pritzker have been at odds for years, most notably over whether the rich should face higher taxes than the majority of the people.
But polls show that despite all of Griffin’s money, Irvin’s campaign hasn’t garnered any traction with Republican primary voters.
Griffin and his hedge fund made their move from Chicago to Miami official on Thursday. The decision is unrelated to Irvin’s candidacy, according to a Citadel spokesman.
Irvin doesn’t appear to have passed the Republican litmus test since he hasn’t stated what he would do in the event that Roe v. Wade was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, he refuses to say whether he supported Donald Trump.
In fact, despite poll results showing that the majority of Illinois GOP primary voters are interested in learning the answer to that issue, Irvin has dodged the question about Trump by suggesting that he is being set up by Democrats.
“I’m not gonna fall into the trap of JB Pritzker talking about what he thinks we should be talking about,” Irvin has told reporters who have asked him to weigh in on the former president.
Irvin has changed his approach to promoting his candidacy more lately, claiming that Pritzker cannot be defeated in November by a hard-right candidate like Darren Bailey.
“A vote for Darren Bailey is a vote for JB Pritzker,” Irvin has repeatedly said.
It’s a wager that Pritzker himself is willing to bet big on.