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AURORA, Ill. — Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has brought fresh attention to the Republican primary for governor.

Irvin says he wants to make a difference in a one-on-one sitdown with WGN News.

“I’ve served this country in war. In the Gulf War, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and while there, I determined that I wanted to spend the rest of my life in service,” Irvin said.

Irvin hopes to gain financial backing from billionaire Ken Griffin, who sources say was unsatisfied with the other Republicans running. So far, Irvin is not saying much about Griffin.

“I’m nobody’s pushover,” he said. “I’m nobody’s puppet. I’m my own man.”

WGN News asked Irvin if Ken Griffin has relayed any wants.

“Let me tell you, the state of Illinois’ got a lot of problems. Crime is out of control. Taxes and spending is out of control,” Irvin said.  

Irvin says if elected, he’ll push for permanent tax cuts rather than the short-term relief proposed by Governor Pritzker this week.

WGN News asked Irvin: Do you support freezing the grocery tax, property tax rebates and a pause in the cost of living increase in the gas tax?

“Listen, the governor’s new tax scheme is just a gimmick,” Irvin stated. “It’s a one-time gimmick.”

In his first campaign video, Irvin promised to crack down on crime.

“Defund the police is dumb, dangerous, and it costs lives, and I believe that all lives matter.”

WGN News asked Irvin if he felt a need to call out police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black people?

“Listen, if you’re going to ask me the question, do Black Lives Matter? My question to you is, don’t they all do? Of course, they do. But the reality is Black lives have to be included in all lives. All lives do matter.”

Irvin’s critics point out that the mayor has pulled Democratic ballots in past primary elections.

WGN News asked Irvin about his Democratic ballot in 2016 and whether he voted for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?

“Listen, I’m a Republican,” Irvin replied.

WGN News also asked the mayor if he voted for Donald Trump in 2020?

“Listen, that’s exactly what J.B. Pritzker wants us to talk about. He wants us to talk about anything but his record in this state and the fact that taxes are out of control, crime is out of control and corruption is out of control,” Irvin said.

Irvin has shown his financial muscle. In just his first week on the campaign trail, he raised $1.2 million, indicating he’ll likely have the funds to compete.

FULL INTERVIEW: WGN Political Reporter Tahman Bradley goes one-on-one with Republican candidate for Illinois Governor, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin