CHICAGO — Six Republican candidates for Illinois governor faced off Thursday night in a contentious debate.
Republican gubernatorial candidates for Illinois Governor were all on one stage, with the exception of Jesse Sullivan, who joined through Zoom after testing positive for COVID-19. While Illinois Governor JB Pritzker expectedly bore the burnt of criticism, five of the six candidates also targeted Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin in the hourlong debate broadcasted on WLS-TV.
Questions about gun control and violence dominated the first half of the debate, which came a week after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two adults dead. Candidates were asked about what they would do to address mass shootings and how they will, in turn, protect schools.
Darren Bailey: We must offer the mental health solutions and help these people.
Richard Irvin: What we have to do is look at common sense, making sure we keep these guns out of the hands of criminals and the hands of people with mental illness.
Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine favored training teachers when asked about protecting schools: “When we look at advanced conceal-carry training for teachers who want it, I think is a great idea. Instead of a gun-free zone, how about an advanced conceal-carry zone.”
Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan and attorney Max Solomon believe in armed guards at schools.
Jesse Sullivan: “We need a highly trained person at every school with a weapon.”
Max Solomon: “Make sure that every school has armed guards.”
Two topics all candidates did agree on—they say they’re all pro-life when it comes to abortion and they are against mandates related to COVID19.
A WGN poll conducted last month, found Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin leading the field with 24.1% support, followed by Bailey with 19.8%.
With Thursday’s debate being the first time all six candidates joined a single debate, many took the opportunity to spar with Irvin.
“I want to let you know something, I’m not interested in defeating you because you’re a Democrat but because you’re a corrupt Democrat,” Irvin said.
The Aurora mayor fought back.
“I know many of my opponents here on the stage are attacking me, and I understand, I get it, they’re threatened by my political aspirations,” Irvin said.
Following the debate, Pritzker released a statement, saying the showing was nothing short of a disaster.
“Their performances only further solidified that the modern GOP is too extreme for Illinois,” Pritzker said. “From stripping women of their fundamental rights to rolling back comprehensive gun reform and blocking access to health care and education, these candidates proudly demonstrated just how far backwards they are willing to drag the state.”
The primary election takes place on June 28, with early voting already underway.