WAUCONDA, Ill. — On Tuesday, Richard Irvin’s running mate, State Rep. Avery Bourne, met with voters in central Illinois’ Christian County — while Irvin toured a manufacturing plant in Wauconda.
With just one week left until the Illinois Primary, the Aurora mayor is trying to right the ship.
“We’re gonna finish strong,” Irvin said.
His campaign hit an iceberg when two public polls showed him trailing State Senator Darren Bailey by double digits.
“For a Republican governor to win in Illinois – that Republican governor is gonna need Republican votes, gonna need independent votes and Democratic crossover,” Irvin said. “I am the only candidate, the only candidate that’s gonna be able to get all of those categories and be able to beat J.B. Pritzker.”
Backed by $50 million from Illinois’ richest man, Ken Griffin, Irvin was the early frontrunner. But the moderate establishment-backed candidate was knocked off message by a barrage of negative ads from Bailey, the Democratic Governors Association and the Pritzker campaign.
“He is on track to spend an historic $35 million tearing me down – against me. A democrat meddling in a Republican primary so he doesn’t face me in the general,” Irvin said.
With momentum at his back, Bailey took his far-right message on a 14-day whistle stop tour of every Illinois country. Bailey, who is aggressively seeking Donald Trump’s endorsement, said he changed his schedule due to a downstate rally the former president is attending on Saturday.
“We we’re supposed to be in Murphysboro this coming Saturday but President Trump announced he’s coming to Quincy,” Bailey said.
Bailey’s strength is not the only problem for Irvin. Jesse Sullivan, who has consistently polled third in the contest, is showing a surge in endorsements. On Tuesday,
State Rep. Ryan Spain, a member of House GOP leadership, switched his endorsement from Irvin to Sullivan.
Privately, GOP leaders say they’re concerned about Bailey as the party standard-bearer in November.