Darren Bailey, the conservative former Illinois state senator who lost heavily in his challenge to incumbent Governor JB Pritzker last November, is running for Congress, he announced Tuesday.
Bailey will challenge Rep. five-term incumbent GOP. Mike Bost, who represents the 12th District. Both Bost and Bailey were supported by former President Donald Trump in their respective elections last year, with Trump hosting a rally for Bailey just before the primary.
Trump carries the 12th District in 2020 with 56% of the vote.
After being introduced by his wife, Bailey took the stage in “Hard Working Men” by Brooks & Dunn and spoke to an estimated 250 people on his family's farm in the lower state of Xenia.
“Our nation is at a crossroads,” said Bailey, announcing his candidacy to represent the sprawling district that includes Carbondale, Marion, and East St. Louis. “We found ourselves in a bullshit storm.”
“We must stand up and reject weak politicians who refuse to stand up and fight back. … It's time to return common sense to our government.
After last year's July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Bailey told residents to “carry on” as police led the hunt for the gunman. He later apologized in a Facebook video to his more than 111,000 followers.
“The shooter is still at large, so let's pray that justice prevails, then let's continue and let's celebrate — celebrate the independence of this nation.” says Bailey in the video.
As Bailey announced his campaign, Highland Park held a day of remembrance for the victims of the shootings.
The Louisville, Illinois, native also temporarily lived in an apartment in the former John Hancock Center during last year's gubernatorial election, during which he referred to Chicago as a “hell hole,” “bad boy,” and “OK kennel.”
Bailey won the GOP governorship nomination in a landslide but lost badly to incumbent Pritzker.
Bailey continues to support Donald Trump through his recent legal troubles.
“It's been an honor to stand with this man,” Bailey wrote on Facebook over a photo of two Republicans giving the thumbs-up sign at Trump's country club in Bedminster, NJ, shortly after the former president pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges. mishandling of confidential documents.
In a statement Tuesday, Bost's campaign manager, Myles Nelson, said it was “shameful” that Bailey would run and “divide conservatives.”
“Bailey put selfish opportunism and personal ambition above the interests of Southern Illinois conservatives,” wrote Nelson. “Republican primary voters won't forget that.”
Bost, a Marine Corp veteran who has represented 34 southern Illinois counties since 2015, is chair of the Veterans Affairs committee and is also on the Transportation and Infrastructure and Agriculture committees.
He won his last race with 75% of the vote against Democratic challenger Homer Markel, a jump from the 60% of the vote he received in the 2020 election. He has not faced a major opponent since 2018.
Contributor: Tina Sfondeles