The center hollows out in Illinois politics: Today’s Juice

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Darren Bailey

If you asked the average Chicago voter a few months ago who Darren Bailey is, they wouldn’t have a clue. Today, he’s the GOP nominee for governor and the most obvious face for a primary election in which the state’s voters continued to move towards the political fringes: Republicans to the hard-conservative right and Democrats to the Uber-liberal progressive left.

Can Bailey pull off an even bigger upset this November against incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker? The odds against him are long. But in a state that, like the rest of America, continues to lose its political center, no one knows for sure.

If his victory speech last night was any indication, Bailey intends to stick with the chip-on-the-shoulder, Trumpish politics that got him where he is.

“God bless you. Thanks be to God, we did it. And we’re going to do it again,” he began.

“Tonight, your voice finally was heard,” he continued. “Tonight, our movement sent a clear message to the establishment and the political elites: we will not be ignored.”

Look for Pritzker to attempt to define exactly what that means for voters as soon as possible, even while pledging fealty to organized labor and abortion and LGBTQ rights. And with all of Pritzker’s money now going directly to electing himself rather than selecting his preferred opponent, Bailey will need a ton of money from somewhere if he’s to compete.

Bailey won despite $50 million spent by Chicago hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin on another candidate, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. It appears Bailey isn’t celebrating that victory alone: his attorney, Thomas DeVore, best known for suing to block Pritzker’s COVID-19 restrictions, beat the Griffin-backed Steve Kim for attorney general on Tuesday. Ditto Dan Brady, who beat John Milhiser, another Griffin pick, for the secretary of state nomination.

For what it’s worth, Griffin kept his ire directed at Pritzker after Irvin slipped into third place while the votes were still being counted. “I believe Richard Irvin would have been a terrific Governor, and I am proud to have supported his campaign. His proven success in lowering taxes, addressing crime, creating jobs and taking on struggles facing Illinois families offered an encouraging and stark alternative to J.B. Pritzker’s agenda for Illinois.”

He added, “The unprecedented tens of millions of dollars spent by Pritzker and national Democrats in the Republican Primary to avoid facing Richard in the General Election demonstrated he was the right candidate.”

In the same vein of fringe wins downstate, the Trump-endorsed conservative firebrand Mary Miller beat establishment favorite Rodney Davis in a telling battle of incumbents.

The same move to the extreme was evident on the Democratic side.

Two progressives endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Jonathan Jackson and Delia Ramirez, appear to have won their difficult races for Congress in the 1st and 3rd Districts, respectively. Another long-time presence in local politics, Rep. Danny Davis, barely held on against progressive Kina Collins in the 7th district.  

And while Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten did prevail over progressive Marie Newman in the 6th District, Newman was already burdened by a probe by the House Ethics Committee that may have proven fatal.

Democratic progressives also scored a victory when Abdelnasser Rashid unseated Rep. Mike Zalewski in the state house 21st District. A Springfield fixture who represented about the last piece of the Southwest Side old guard that once utterly dominated Chicago politics, Zalewski wasn’t helped by family connections to Mike Madigan and the ComEd bribery case.

And back up north, Anthony Joel Quezada, a Democratic Socialist and staffer for Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, looks like he snagged a shot at the 8th District Cook County Board seat.

All of that has some interesting implications for Chicago’s upcoming mayoral race. 

But, first, on to November.

Ino Saves New

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June 29, 2022 at 08:42AM

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