GOP aims to ‘fire Pritzker’ as party searches for statewide contender who can win
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) – Republicans in Illinois have rallied behind the battle cry of “Fire Pritzker” in the 2022 election, but they are far from hiring the candidate they would like to replace.
“Let’s go fire Pritzker,” new ILGOP party chairman Don Tracy said on Republicans Day at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday. “Under King Pritzker, Illinois is awake and weak.”
Later, when reporters asked who the party champion could be to defeat the outgoing billionaire, Tracy said, “It’s early. Primary is not until June 28.
His response was neither an endorsement nor an outright rejection of the three candidates who entered the gubernatorial race, but other party organizers and campaign staff were angered at Tracy’s decision. not to allow their candidates on stage to address the crowd.
So far, State Senator Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), businessman Gary Rabine and former State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) have launched primary campaigns targeting the ‘Pritzker’s use of executive power during the pandemic, but each of them faces significant hurdles before they can claim the support of a majority, or even a plurality of supporters within the party.
“I think the silent majority are out there,” Bailey said. “We just have to find them.”
“If the elections were held today, Governor Pritzker would beat the candidates for governor,” former state senator Kirk Dillard, chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority, said Thursday. “You have to lead someone as a Republican in Illinois who can actually win a general election.”
The Illinois Republican Party is desperate for a winner. Their party’s candidates haven’t won statewide elections since 2014, when Republican Bruce Rauner ousted incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn. The closest to victory in the years that followed was in 2018 when GOP candidate Erika Harold lost to Democrat Kwame Raoul in the race for attorney general. He beat her by 12% with a margin of over half a million votes.
Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Illinois 18th District) admitted defeating Governor Pritzker would be a “tough and difficult battle in Illinois.”
“We’re going to take back Illinois by eliminating Democratic constitutional agents,” Republican Congressman Rodney Davis (Illinois’ 13th District) told a crowd of a few hundred Republicans. However, the event did not present any candidates for any of these offices.
In contrast, Illinois Democrats stood on the same stage at the fairgrounds the day before and presented their party followers with a full list of incumbents who have already won the statewide election, many with campaign chests full of money.
“I never take anything for granted,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza (D-Illinois) said when asked if Democrats are too confident heading into next year’s election. “It’s the first mistake you make on your way to defeat. And so you always have to run like you’re back to the wall, and you’re going to have the most popular person in the world running against you.
The state’s most popular politician, Secretary of State Jesse White, 87, has been re-elected comfortably in double digits every year since 1998. He will not stand for re-election next year. His exit from the most coveted positions in state government sparked early interest from a group of ambitious Democrats who are already racking up campaign supporters and donors.
Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell, former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago Alderman David Moore and City of Chicago Clerk Anna Valencia each addressed a crowd of around 1,000. supporters at the Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association brunch on Wednesday in hopes of replacing White. No Republican has officially announced a primary campaign for Secretary of State, although State Representative Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) is considering a run.
Instead of promoting individual campaigns or candidates, Republicans are swinging the political pendulum against Democrats who hold the House and Senate in Springfield, the House and Senate in Washington, DC, and the executive branches in both capitals.
“I think [donors] have a lot of remorse about the election, ”Tracy said. “Some people might call it buyer’s remorse Biden. They don’t like the “defund police” movement. They don’t like what is going on in our schools. And they don’t like this crazy left-wing Democratic agenda that seems to be overtaken by progressive liberals.
Republicans also highlighted electoral victories on an income tax progressive ballot issue and the retention of a Democratic state Supreme Court justice in 2020 to boost morale and project momentum, but unlike the upcoming races of 2022, none of these contests required Republicans to field a candidate who could draw voters to their cause. They just had to oppose something without presenting an alternative.
Dillard, who has competed in two of the last three GOP primary races and lost, says Republican donors and party leaders wooed him to try a third time. But as he scours the pitch, he sees a gauntlet of candidates with short-term strengths in a GOP primary that could turn into long-term liabilities before next November.
“You have the question of President Trump and your closeness to President Trump in a general election, which could be problematic, especially with women in the suburbs,” Dillard said.
Tracy said he was “neutral” about whether the party candidate should rally to the pro-Trump far-right base or lean towards the more moderate middle. Bruce Rauner, the last Republican to achieve victory in the entire state of Illinois, was a pro-choice businessman who avoided Trump’s rise in the party.
Democrats used political events at the Illinois State Fair to test their 2022 message, which will likely feature a heavy dose of former President Trump and the January 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol.
“Illinois Democrats like to nationalize their message,” said GOP leader Durkin. “You know what? We can do the same.
Durkin and other Republicans attributed inflation, supply chain shortages and labor issues to federal stimulus spending in President Biden’s US bailout, while Democrats emphasized the benefits of the back-up plan and the opposition of the GOP.
“It wasn’t a single Republican vote that returned resources to each state, even if they take credit for it,” said Illinois Democratic Party Chairman and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D- Illinois 2nd District), “because their states and their cities and their mayors and governors also get the resources.”
Tracy said he didn’t think the insurgency imagery, which is likely to appear in Democratic campaign ads, would cast a shadow over Republicans’ chances of winning statewide.
“It was a mistake. It was a bad day,” said the party chairman. “But you know, we are moving forward.”
Congressman LaHood, who represents the state’s second most Republican district, urged GOP voters to take hope in other Blue states that have elected Republican governors.
“Vermont, at Bernie Sanders, has a Republican governor,” LaHood said to crowd applause. “Massachusetts has a Republican governor. Maryland has a Republican governor. We can have a Republican governor in Illinois if they can have it.
LaHood omitted a few revealing details. He didn’t tell the crowd how these governors – Phil Scott (R-VT), Larry Hogan (R-MD) and Charlie Baker (R-MA) – won their elections by appealing to independents and Democrats, with what prudence they have ruled. their states during the pandemic, or how fiercely and vocally they opposed the former president.
On January 6, 2021, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott tweeted, “Make no mistake, the President of the United States is responsible for this event.
He said: “President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his cabinet or by Congress. “
Scott and Baker have both publicly stated that they will not vote for Mr. Trump until the 2020 election.
Hogan, who enjoys some of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country along with Baker and Scott, said he would have voted to convict former President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial and remove him.
If LaHood’s examples provide a model of electoral success in Illinois, then there is only one Republican congressman from Illinois that fits that mold: U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger, who voted for to impeach former President Trump. He was absent from the political rally at the fairgrounds on Thursday. His assistants said he was on duty at his post in the Air Force National Guard.