Aug 19, 2022 - Politics

IL GOP courts the working class

Photo of a man walking past a tractor.
Gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey arrives at the Illinois State Fair. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

State Republicans face an uphill battle against incumbent Democrats this November, but GOP candidates are hoping their focus on crime and inflation will resonate with disgruntled voters.

Driving the news: The IL GOP gathered in Springfield yesterday for Republican Day at the State Fairgrounds, touting a party that has transformed into one representing the working class.

  • "It's about every working family and small business across the state that is struggling with soaring utility rates and rent while JB Pritzker soars off in his private jet to his next presidential campaign stop," gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey told supporters, to cheers.

What they're saying: "We're better prepared to take advantage of a red wave than ever before," party chair Don Brady said, citing:

  • "More than 100" Republicans running in November including several for Cook County Board and "a credible candidate" in former Ald. Bob Fioretti for board president.
  • An aim to win the majority on the Illinois Supreme Court for the "first time in more than 50 years" with two seats in play this fall.

Between the lines: To do this, the party is focused on crime, personal freedoms, and working-class finances.

  • "Under JB Pritzker's watch, crime is skyrocketing in Chicago and all across the state," Bailey said.
  • "Parents don't feel safe letting their kids play in the parks or walk home from school."

What's more: After Bailey called Chicago a "hellhole" again twice during his speech, we asked whether he believes most Chicagoans think they live in a hellhole.

The intrigue: Bailey acknowledged that "Joe Biden is president, because the constitutional process was followed."

  • That public stance puts him out of step with many other candidates backed by former President Donald Trump.

Of note: Trump-aligned U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, who voted to reject certifying the 2020 presidential election results, did not speak at any Thursday state GOP events.

  • When asked where Miller was, chairman Tracy said, "I don't know."
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