Where Illinois GOP governor candidate Darren Bailey stands on abortion & cash bail
After pulling away from a crowded GOP field in the June primary, thanks in part to an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, state Sen. Darren Bailey won the Republican nominee for governor.
Facing Democrat incumbent Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, the Xenia legislator is in an uphill battle, according to recent polls and campaign finance data. Bailey's trailing margin depends on the poll, but recently published polling indicates he has ground to make up.
A WGN-TV/Emerson College Polling/The Hill poll released Wednesday, shows the challenger trailing by 15 points to Pritzker with 51% supporting the governor and 36% backing Bailey. This gap is even larger among women voters, where 55% plan to vote for Pritzker and only 30% for Bailey.
Bailey's campaign did not respond to repeated requests from The State Journal-Register for an interview.
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of candidate profiles ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
About Darren Bailey, Republican candidate for Illinois governor
Bailey has touted his farming background throughout the campaign, even riding into the Illinois State Fair on a tractor. According to his campaign website, he is a third-generation farmer and owns and operates the Bailey Family Farm in southern Illinois with his sons.
The candidate's personal wealth does not compare to his opponent, Pritzker being heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, but is believed to hold millions resulting from his farming operation. At a recent press conference, Bailey was asked if he was in fact a millionaire.
“I have farm ground,” Bailey said in June. “So yeah, I guess that’s a fair statement.”
Bailey and his wife Cindy also opened Full Armor Christian Academy, a Louisville-based preschool through 12th-grade school, in 2016. Born and raised in Louisville, a village of 1,200, he is also a member of the Louisville Rotary Club and several statewide agriculture associations.
In Springfield, Bailey first joined the Illinois General Assembly as a representative of House District 109 in 2018 before winning a Senate race in 2021. He sits on several senate committees including agriculture, health, higher education, and labor.
Bailey and his wife have been married for 35 years. They have four children and 11 grandchildren.
Here are three key issues in the race:
Darren Bailey on no cash bail
As a member of the Eastern Bloc, a group of conservative downstate lawmakers, Bailey's criticism of Chicago dates back to his time as a representative. There, he supported a resolution to separate the Windy City from the rest of Illinois — a measure never taken to vote.
During his gubernatorial campaign, that critique of Chicago has continued due to what he describes as being soft on crime. With the SAFE-T Act ending cash bail in the state on Jan. 1, Bailey has said that violence in the city will make its way throughout Illinois as a result.
"When (Cook County State's Attorney) Kim Foxx refuses to prosecute, essentially, no cash bail already exists now," he said during a press conference in Springfield earlier this month. Bailey is in favor of repealing the SAFE-T Act.
Bailey and Pritzker participated in a virtual forum on Friday put on by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors, taking questions on the SAFE-T Act and more where he again pushed for its repeal.
With nearly all state's attorneys calling for changes to the law, Bailey said if he was currently governor that he would call a special session today to address those concerns.
"It was done behind closed doors and it needs to be reconsidered," he said during the forum with questions from the Shaw Media, the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, the State Journal-Register and Capitol News Illinois. "It is not working; it is destroying our state."
He has been widely criticized for referring to Chicago as a "hellhole."
Bailey credits his Christian faith for opposing taxpayer-funded abortions and any further expansion to access.
Any attempt at passing legislation restricting access or banning abortion as governor, however, likely would be met with resistance from the Democrat-majority Illinois General Assembly.
Bailey acknowledged that reality telling NBC 5 Chicago that "nothing is going to change anytime soon," when it comes to abortion. Comments from his opponent during the Friday forum, claiming abortion would be threatened if Bailey took over the governor's office, he described as "fear-mongering."
Comments made by Bailey in a 2017 Facebook livestream resurfaced earlier in the campaign, where he compared abortion to the Holocaust, earning the ire of Democrats and members of the Jewish community.
After first issuing a statement to explain what he meant, Bailey later said in a radio interview that several rabbis told him "he was right" according to CapitolFax, an online political newsletter.
Government spending vs. accountability
Earlier this month, Bailey was asked if he supported a state initiative to address gun violence in communities throughout the state.
That specific funding announced late last month opened $100 million in grants for gun violence prevention programs in municipalities such as Springfield.
"That's all we ever hear for solutions here in Illinois. More money and more spending," he replied. "That more money and more spending never comes with more accountability and more transparency."
As governor, Bailey discussed his vision of a "zero-based" budget that he believes will better serve the taxpayer. The candidate said during the Friday forum that he would appoint the proper department heads to serve this mission.
"They will account for every dollar that is going to be spent and, finally, the people of Illinois will be able to look and see directly where there money is being spent," he said. "I believe that is how we are going to ferret out the waste that is currently in our budget."
What is the campaign's funding source?
Bailey concluded the primary financial quarter with $363,918 in available funds according to campaign finance data. His largest support from the quarter, ending June 30, came from Chicago-area billionaire Richard Uihlein who sent three contributions totaling $8 million.
With this quarter concluding on Sept. 30, Uihlein has continued to be a major driver of the GOP gubernatorial hopeful but has not been as active. On Aug. 29, Bailey's campaign received $1 million from Uihlein — the largest contribution to date.
Uihlein has instead been sending millions to a Florida-based political action committee opposing Bailey's opponent, called the People Who Play By The Rules PAC. His latest contribution to the PAC came on July 26, when he sent $15 million, and has spent more than $28 million this year.
The PAC has used those funds to run Pritzker opposition ads, including an infamous video showing a Chicago woman being attacked by three men, on varying media platforms, including television, radio, and digital.
Who's endorsing Darren Bailey?
Leading up to the primary, Bailey secured his endorsement from Trump during a rally attended by the former president in Malton. Since then, however, he has not spoken much of Trump — not once during the GOP Day at the Illinois State Fair.
Prior to June 28, Bailey was endorsed by Illinois Family Action, Illinois Federation for Right to Life, and Illinois Citizens for Life. He has recently picked up an endorsement from the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police — the first time the group endorsed a governor in a general election.
Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter