Irvin gets 60 GOP endorsements as financial documents show warning signs in Bailey’s campaign

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) – The day after Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin launched his campaign for governor, 60 other Republicans backed his primary bid, giving him an immediate lead in the “Governor Primary”. ‘approval”.

The long list of veteran Republicans included recognizable names like House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), former Congressman John Shimkus and former Illinois comptroller Leslie Munger.

Irvin’s running mate, Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville), is well-liked and well-connected in downstate Republican circles, and offers the suburban mayor another avenue to forge quick alliances with organizers of the party and their network of volunteers.

Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie (R-Lake Zurich) did not include his name in the first round of endorsements, but said he had already spoken to Irvin and left with a positive impression.

“He’s the only candidate who comes from the suburbs,” McConchie said. Political strategists view the suburbs as the main battleground for forming a coalition broad enough to overthrow Governor JB Pritzker in November.

“So having been here definitely gives him an edge,” McConchie said, before discussing the candidate’s personal story. “Being able to talk about the issues, growing up here, living and working here, and going from housing in section eight to being in a position where he’s actually mayor of the town where he grew up very poor with a single mother , I think it’s a great story.

State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) attacked Irvin as a “career Democrat” because he voted in the Democratic primaries during the years Donald Trump was on the Republican ballot.

McConchie said he asked Irvin about his voting record and seemed satisfied with his answer.

“At the end of the day, I believe it’s what you’ve done and what you say, what your vision for the state is, that ultimately makes a difference,” McConchie said. “I think he needs to be able to explain to Republican primary voters who might wonder why he did this. He has to explain it to their satisfaction, and I can’t wait to hear him do it.

Pritzker, whose campaign team is eager to confuse Irvin and link him to billionaire megadonor Ken Griffin, called on the candidate to take questions from reporters.

“If you want to run for governor, you should field questions from members of the media, just like me,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Chicago. “I hope any candidate who comes forward and announces they’re going to run will answer questions and not wait weeks after announcing to do something.”

Irvin’s campaign was launched two days ago and staffers promised he would meet with the media soon.

The mayor’s entry into the race came just as other GOP candidates were releasing their latest campaign finance reports. The new filings showed Gary Rabine closed 2021 as the fundraising favorite with $580,626 in new contributions, taking a slight advantage over Bailey’s $499,258.

However, the Bailey team is showing early signs of a failing campaign, according to campaign finance experts who reviewed their most recent financial documents. Bailey brought in $394,986 more in the third quarter of 2021 than he did in the last quarter, suggesting his first wave of fundraising may have lost momentum or hit its ceiling.

“You should get new donors,” said Kent Redfield, a campaign finance expert and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

“You want the trendline to go up, and it’s not,” Redfield said of Bailey’s campaign. “Particularly if you’re building some type of small donor network, you want to engage those people, reach them, and get them to keep donating.”

Bailey’s campaign also spent $794,404 in the same three-month period, burning through more than half of their new contributions and existing cash reserve. Bailey distributed much of that money to a few of his closest political allies on the far-right fringe of the House Republican Caucus.

“If he spends a lot of money contributing to other candidates, it really doesn’t do you much good,” Redfield said. “You have to be beyond the base. You have to be in the suburbs. »

Neither Rabine nor Bailey have anywhere near the $9.1 million stack of cash that sits in Jesse Sullivan’s campaign fund, though the venture capitalist still hasn’t named a running mate. Sullivan must appoint a running mate before he can begin circulating petitions to be on the ballot.

Redfield, who has studied and analyzed Illinois campaign finances for decades, said he had never seen a contribution as large as the $90 million check Pritzker deposited into his fund. campaign over the weekend.

Redfield said Pritzker was upping the ante to “let everyone know he’s serious.”

“It gets to the point where you can’t really spend any more money,” he said. “There is a saturation point. There is only a certain amount of airtime, there is only a certain number of senders. The 15th direct mail or the 20th TV commercial, the marginal return on this is going to get pretty small, but no one wants to stop. Nobody wants to leave anything in the tank.

The primary election is scheduled for June 28.

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