Jun 29, 2022 - Politics

Get ready for Bailey vs. Pritzker

Politicians on stage

Darren Bailey delivers remarks during a rally with former President Donald Trump at the Adams County Fairgrounds last week. Photo: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

State Sen. Darren Bailey won last night's GOP primary handily and will take on incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker in November.

Why it matters: The contentious race was the most expensive primary in Illinois history, with billionaires Ken Griffin, Dick Uihlein, Pritzker and former President Donald Trump all weighing in.

  • The campaigns spent a combined $216 million, which some analysts believe is just the start of the most expensive nonpresidential campaign in U.S. history.

The intrigue: Both Trump and Pritzker seemed to want a Bailey win, but for different reasons.

  • Trump's nod seemed to be inspired by Bailey's conservative views and a shared penchant for dissing Chicago.
  • Pritzker, meanwhile, backed ads calling Bailey "too conservative for Illinois," which may have rallied conservative voters.
  • "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 said in a recent debate.

The big picture: Trump's last-minute endorsement gave Bailey a big victory in a state that has largely backed moderate GOP candidates.

Between the lines: The outcome signals a humiliating loss for billionaire Ken Griffin, who spent more than $50 million supporting third-place finisher Richard Irvin.

  • Griffin's donations also supported other statewide candidates who lost, including Steve Kim (for attorney general) and John Milhiser (for secretary of state).

The other side: Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association spent $30 million to run ads against Bailey and others in the GOP primary.

  • "Darren Bailey is a MAGA extremist who's threatening to drag Illinois backwards," DGA executive director Noam Lee said in a statement. "There is no doubt Illinois will reject him and his dangerous agenda this November."

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more