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AURORA, Ill. — On Monday, GOP candidate for Governor Richard Irvin summoned reporters to Aurora for the first press conference of the campaign.

He wanted to discuss the highly critical audit of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration’s response to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans Home.

“Thirty-six of our nation’s heroes needlessly, needlessly lost their lives due to the extreme and gross negligence under J.B. Pritzker’s watch,” he said.

But the presser quickly turned contentious.

Since Irvin has not held a press conference since announcing his candidacy in late January, the only topic reporters wanted to discuss was abortion.

“Listen, I’m pro-life,” Irvin said. “My exceptions are rape, incest and the health of a mother.”

Last week, when a Supreme Court draft opinion proposing to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked, Irvin remained silent while his GOP primary rivals shared their opinions.

Monday, the Aurora mayor would not discuss the push to pass a federal law banning abortion. Irvin did say he favors repealing the state law signed by Gov. Pritzker that ended the requirement that abortion providers notify the parents of minors seeking the procedure.

The Irvin campaign sent out a mailer quoting rival Darren Bailey discussing pulling a Democratic ballot in 2008 — possibly casting a vote for then-VP candidate Joe Biden. But Irvin himself has voted in past Democratic primaries and won’t say whether he voted for President Trump in 2020.

After running a low-profile, direct to voters campaign, Team Irvin insists the candidate will be out more making the rounds and meeting the press.