Pritzker, Democratic supporters defeat Bailey and ‘Awake Illinois’ followers
SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The two-year political battle that started with a frivolous lawsuit against COVID-19 mitigations in 2020 is over. Governor JB Pritzker declared victory over Senator Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) just over an hour after polls close in Illinois, Tuesday night.
While many expected the gubernatorial race to be called early, Democratic supporters celebrated minutes after the polls closed as the Associated Press had already called the race in Pritzker’s favor.
The Pritzker campaign election results party was packed with Democrats celebrating Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton’s re-election well before most election results were tabulated across the state.
Pritzker highlighted successful plans that became law over the past four years, including raising the minimum wage, increasing education funding, legalizing recreational marijuana, and expanding abortion access. Abortion protections were a top reason why Democrats voted in the General Election following the Supreme Court decision this summer to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“To anyone who thinks they can come into this state and try to force some right-wing, MAGA war on woman’s body - you will never get an inch in Illinois,” Pritzker said to the crowd.
The governor also noted the diversity of Illinois and how Democrats came together over the past four years. He thanked all Illinoisans who helped others throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic. Pritzker said the state is a special place that keeps finding a way to produce great people. He also said Illinoisans have found a million different ways to show the world that goodness is a choice that many people across the state make.
“We have earned the right to take pride in our state, Illinois,” Pritzker said. “And I remain humbled that you have chosen me again to be your governor.”
Stratton told supporters that they helped the Pritzker administration prevail over people who continue to try and silence the voices of women, people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, immigrant families, and small business owners. She said Illinois Democrats can declare that they still have a voice and are not done making their voices heard.
“While our country has experienced far too many dark days in recent years, the great state of Illinois remains a light in the darkness,” Stratton said. “Our light shines because, in Illinois, we are so much more than the divisiveness of our politics.”
Stratton said that people might disagree on issues, but the success and prosperity of Illinois rely on everyone rising up and being the best of humanity to prove that light always finds a way through the darkness.
“Hate and fear does not motivate us to go where we need to go,” Stratton said. “Tonight, our light shines and it illuminates a path forward where Illinois is a home for all.”
Bailey did not give up easily Tuesday night, as the downstate Republican wanted to keep up hope for his loyal supporters. Although, many people left the Bailey campaign party when they started to watch Stratton and Pritzker’s victory speeches on local news stations.
“There’s still room for a miracle, friends,” Bailey said to cheers from the group of supporters who stayed. “There’s still room for a miracle until all of the votes are counted.”
As of midnight, Bailey was still trailing behind Pritzker with over 90% of Illinois precincts reporting. The senator also admitted that he called the governor to concede the race. That message was met by boos and jeers from the crowd, as many still believed that Bailey could pull off an upset in the Democratic state.
“The challenges are many, but I’m going to do what I always have done, what Americans always have done,” Bailey said. “I’m going to roll up my sleeves and I’m going to go back to work. My priorities will continue to be the things that unite us - protecting our freedoms, bringing jobs to our state, and safety to our streets.”
Bailey told his supporters that Illinois leaders need to be better. He specifically looked out at the press cameras to say that Pritzker had to be better for Illinois children and grandchildren.
Most of Bailey’s supporters defied COVID-19 mitigations during the worst of the pandemic and participated in “Reopen Illinois” protests with members of Awake Illinois. The organization told parents across the state to vote against Pritzker because members believe he is “the worst governor in history.”
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