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Bailey swings through west central Illinois amid state tour

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Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio
State Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey in Knoxville.

State Senator and Republican candidate for governor Darren Bailey campaigned in west central Illinois this week.

Several dozen supporters gathered at the Big Catz BBQ beer garden in Knoxville on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon, waiting for Bailey’s bus to arrive from Macomb.

Knox County was the 23rd county in Bailey’s quest to visit all one 102 Illinois counties in the last two weeks before the state’s primary election on June 28.

Bailey, 56, is a farmer and former school board member from Clay County, about a hundred miles east of St. Louis.

He’s served in both the Illinois House and Senate since entering state politics four years ago.

The most recent polls show him with a commanding lead over Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin for the Republican nomination to run against Governor J.B. Pritzker in November.

Steve Cortes, a former campaign advisor for Donald Trump, introduced Bailey to the crowd in Knoxville.

“There’s a lot that needs to be fixed in Illinois and this man, who I give you now, is the next governor of Illinois, Darren Bailey,” Cortes said.

Bailey took the stage in jeans, a blue and white checked shirt, and cowboy boots.

He called his campaign a “movement.”

“I am the only candidate in the race who’s not afraid to make the bold choices we need to get Illinois back on track. I have been standing up and doing that for the last four years,” Bailey said.

Bailey sued Pritzker in 2020 over COVID-19 restrictions and has fought against mask mandates.

He told supporters in Knoxville that Pritzker is trying to portray him as a radical downstate Republican not refined enough to inhabit the governor’s mansion, and he called Pritzker an elitist billionaire who doesn’t care about working class people.

Bailey said he wants poll watchers throughout the state to ensure the integrity of elections in Illinois.

During that day, the candidate also visited Brown, Schuyler, McDonough, Warren, Henderson, and Mercer counties.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.