Republicans rally to “Fire Pritzker” and “Restore Illinois”

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Hundreds of GOP supporters gathered to celebrate Republican Day with their favorite political leaders and candidates at the Illinois State Fair. “Restore Illinois” and “Fire Pritzker” were some of the key messages during a long rally under the August sun.

Whether it is the party of Lincoln, Reagan, or Trump, Illinois Republicans want voters to think they are unified going into November.

Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), the new face of the Republican Party in Illinois, made a grand entrance to Thursday’s rally and BBQ lunch by driving in on a friend’s tractor with his wife Cindy.

“Are we ready for the beginning of the end of the leftist Democrat stranglehold on Illinois,” asked Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy. The crowd of red shirts and hats erupted in applause.

Tracy told supporters the Republican party is united and ready to battle Democrats over the next 80 days. Although, some top GOP leaders like House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Secretary of State candidate Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said they’ll support the GOP ticket while dodging questions about endorsing Bailey.

Will Bailey gain enough support to have a chance at winning the governor’s race?

“Well, you know, we just had the primary about a month ago,” Tracy said. “But everybody is coming together as far as I can tell.”

Bailey doesn’t seem concerned about division within the party either.

“[The] Illinois Republican Party needs leadership. I’m bringing that leadership. We will unify the party,” Bailey said. “That doesn’t bother me one bit. I will support them. I love them all the same, so everything is good. We’re gonna take Illinois. We’re gonna fire JB Pritzker and we’re gonna restore Illinois.”

Tracy held a unity dinner with Bailey’s former opponents Richard Irvin, Gary Rabine, and Jesse Sullivan joining the nominee at Mariah’s Steakhouse Wednesday night. Sullivan brought his family to the GOP rally Thursday afternoon. He said Bailey has similar characteristics to Lincoln. However, the venture capitalist also thinks Bailey could bring some of Trump’s policies back to Illinois.

“It’s really about getting God back in the center of our politics,” Sullivan said. “It’s about getting government to quit their overreach and get back to limited taxation when we’re the highest taxed state in the nation and not getting anything for it.”

Bailey’s personal attorney who gained statewide fame throughout the COVID-19 pandemic also received rounds of applause from supporters. Tom DeVore, now the GOP nominee for Attorney General, highlighted his court battles against the Pritzker administration and said Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul should’ve defended the rights of citizens instead of the governor.

“Appearance of power is just as persuasive as power itself,” DeVore said. “I’m here to tell you that there’s been a straw man at the helm for the last 2 1/2 years pretending that he has power that he doesn’t have.”

DeVore said he will fight against crime and corruption while defending the Constitution. Meanwhile, Bailey said he wants to lower taxes, bring parental rights back into education, and repeal what he calls tough-on-crime laws.

“You and I are hands-on people. We fix problems all day long,” Bailey said. “Now, we’ve got to turn our attention to fixing this great state.”

Sen. Darren Bailey talks with a supporter at the 2022 Illinois State Fair Republican Day rally.
Sen. Darren Bailey talks with a supporter at the 2022 Illinois State Fair Republican Day rally.(Mike Miletich)

Bailey’s running mate, Stephanie Trussell, also faced questions from reporters Thursday about controversial posts on social media over recent years. Trussell tweeted in 2017 that people should stick their fingers in a lock and DNA would open the bathroom door while making fun of Caitlyn Jenner. Trussell has also referred to Planned Parenthood as “Klanned Parenthood.”

“Let’s talk about what’s really hurting Illinois. Let’s talk about 114,000 people left Illinois,” Trussell said. “It wasn’t about my Facebook posts.”

The Capitol Bureau asked Trussell where she stands on Bailey’s comments about the Holocaust and abortion.

“Well you guys have already gotten statements about that,” Trussell said. “We’re talking about we’re going forward. You don’t want me to talk about abortion because you know I’m a Black woman where they put abortion clinics in our community to target Blacks more than any other community.”

David Paul Blumenshine tried to recruit poll watchers as people waited in line for their lunch. Blumenshine led a bus of people to Washington DC for the Trump rally on January 6, 2021. He is also the election integrity coordinator for Bailey’s campaign. The conservative talk show host on Cities 92.9 in Bloomington has lost several campaigns against Brady.

Volunteers with Bailey’s campaign told police to kick one person out of the rally before the event started. Bailey supporter Lawrence Ligas clearly wasn’t welcome to participate in the rally after he was charged for participating in the January 6 insurrection. Ligas is no longer part of the Bailey campaign team and tried to tell police he was actually a member of the media covering the event on the fairgrounds before he was escorted out.

The Pritzker campaign said Bailey and his party are on a MAGA crusade to plunge Illinois into the past.

“As Governor Pritzker and Illinois Democrats continue to protect and build on critical rights and freedoms, Darren Bailey and Illinois Republicans are an active threat to equality and democracy,” said Pritzker’s campaign press secretary Eliza Glezer. “Any person who repeatedly disparages the economic engine of the state, while spewing racist, sexist, homophobic, and hateful views, doesn’t deserve to hold a position of leadership here or anywhere.”

Several Republicans said Pritzker is using the governor’s office as a launching pad for a presidential run. They also stressed that the state needs real leadership.

Durkin highlighted corruption within the Democratic Party and said the Republican Party is supporting police more than Illinois Democrats.

“The men and women in my caucus support you 100%,” Durkin said. We proved it by not supporting the SAFE-T Act. When the Democrats and JB Pritzker talk about how much they’ve done for police and law enforcement and public safety they speak with forked tongue.”

He also stressed that there are 106 Republicans on the ballot for House seats, breaking the previous record of 76 candidates in 1994.

“We have the opportunity to participate and to give those options to people who have had it with the Democrat political class in Chicago, the suburbs, and every place in the state where we have not been competitive,” Durkin said.

Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) also noted that his caucus has a record number of candidates on the ballot. McConchie said initial polling is looking good for his GOP candidates across the state. He told the crowd that Pritzker plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy his election, the Supreme court election, House and Senate races, and congressional elections.

“He’s going to spread that money around trying to buy the state of Illinois to use as a launching pad so he can try to become president of the United States,” McConchie said. “This is our opportunity, right here, to shut that down.”

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