In a six-way race to face Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker this November, it will be State Sen. Darren Bailey that will win the Republican nomination, NBC News projects.
Bailey, who was elected to the state senate from Xenia, received significant downstate support and a coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump in the late stages of the primary cycle.
Bailey fended off a crowded field that included Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who was an early favorite in the campaign after using $50 million in donations from Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin to purchase a slew of televised advertisements.
Irvin also faced a withering barrage of attack ads from Pritzker himself and from the Democratic Governor’s Association in the late stages of the campaign.
Bailey also bested businessman Jesse Sullivan, whose outsider message was seen as a key as he racked up support late in the election.
Businessman Gary Rabine, former State Sen. Paul Schimpf and attorney Max Solomon all finished well off the pace in the race, according to projections.
Now Bailey and his running mate will face Pritzker and Julianna Stratton in the November election. Pritzker will seek a second term in office, while Bailey will hope to unseat the man that he tangled with in courtrooms throughout the COVID pandemic, filing lawsuits over the governor’s health mitigations and policies.
Bailey has criticized the governor’s economic policies, pointing to the departure of several company headquarters in recent months as evidence that Pritzker has negatively impacted the number of jobs in Illinois.
The Democratic Governors’ Association has already run ads against Bailey, calling his policies “far-right” and out-of-step with the viewpoints of Illinois voters.