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GOP Gubernatorial candidate pushing for change

Pontiac Daily Leader

Tuesday, October 12, 2021  |  Article  |  Erich Murphy

State Sen. Darren Bailey might be considered controversial, after all he was kicked out of the General Assembly for not wearing a mask and he did sue the governor over mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Bailey also has some popularity for making his stands.

 

Bailey is making a run for the state's highest office in the November 2022 election as he hopes to oust Gov. JB Pritzker, the man he sued last year over the governor's stay-at-home mandate. In Pontiac, he had a question-and-answer session before speaking with the media.

 

“I offer you someone who has been standing up, not just to stand here and give you empty, hollow promises, but what I will do, you have a track record with me, I pray and hope that you research and get involved,” Bailey said at the question-and-answer session. “We are more confident that ever that we're going to fire Pritzker, that we're going to get him out of there.”

 

Bailey spoke on various topics as questions from the audience varied. One of the bigger issues around the state is education and what the governor threatened regarding funding and mandates for schools.

 

“Because of fear, Gov. Pritzker has been able to come in and use fear tactics and back everybody off,” Bailey said. “Without being able to revoke a school's charter, he can't touch their funding.”

 

Education is one his campaign planks. This includes getting unfunded mandates off the table and returning local control to the local schools.

 

Fear created by the governor is a theme Bailey is following. He said that people have told in his campaign travels that the percentages are high about favoring mask-optional mandates. This is including the governor threatening to pull funding.

 

Members of the audience that filled the upstairs of the Cup & Scone listen to GOP gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Darren Bailey Monday morning.

One woman in the audience pointed out that she pulled her kids from public schools because of the mask mandate. She said that she pays $1,500 in taxes but that her kids, as home-schooled students, cannot participate in extra curricular activities.

 

“If your local school is failing, they don't need to receive your tax dollars,” Bailey said as he explained his favor in vouchers. He did add that school districts have the right to decide if home-schooled students can participate in extra-curricular activities.

 

This sided with his push for the local governing bodies to be making decisions on their own instead of bowing to the wishes of the governor and his threats.

 

“Don't forget that the elected, local unit can do whatever they so choose to do,” Bailey said. “If we don't, we've just given up our freedoms.”

 

State Sen. Darren Bailey speaks with a member of the media after speaking to a question-and-answer session for the public Monday at Cup & Scone.

Bailey has made his way through the ranks of the election process. The father of three and grandfather of 10 was on the North Clay school board for 12 years, including serving as its president. It was a move by his local state representative that encouraged Bailey to run for the state state legislature.

 

The issue was a vote for the 2018 state budget that called for a 32 percent tax increase and was not balanced. He said he started speaking out, making complaints until he was called out to do something.

 

He ran for the House and was elected. He then ran for the Senate and is serving there, even when he's being asked to leave because he refuses to wear a mask. Now, he's running for governor.

 

“God's opening these doors and we're being obedient in walking through these doors, that's all we're doing,” Bailey said. “A message of hope, standing up for the people, that's something different and unique to Illinois.”

 

He's not fond of career politicians, saying, “As soon as people get elected, they try to figure out to get re-elected and when they do that, then you've got to start pleasing everyone. It's that simple. George Washington served to terms and stepped aside, that was the example.”

 

State Sen. Darren Bailey speaks to the audience at Cup & Scone Monday.

In discussing COVID, the one topic more than anything that provided state-wide recognition for Bailey, the senator from the 55th district said that the government is doing so much that it might be overstepping bounds.

 

“At the end of the day, it's the people that make the choices of what they want to do,” Bailey said. “If I have one sole concern, I'm probably most concerned with this direction of mandates and regulations that the government has taken to truly protect the people. As our governor says, he's protecting lives, against something he knows absolutely nothing about. We the people make that choice.

 

“That is my message. I sued Gov. Pritzker and on July 2 of 2020, the sitting circuit judge of Clay County ruled that Gov. Pritzker was, indeed, going against his constitutional authority,” Bailey added. “Government never, ever should close churches, schools, businesses down. And likewise, the people should never allow this. Therein lies the problem, the people have allowed this.

 

“I'm not anti-mask, I'm not anti-vaccine, I'm pro freedom. We decide.”

 

There are other issues affecting all corners of the state, and the country. Included is the unemployment situation, where there are more jobs available than those collecting unemployment benefits.

 

“How do you get re-elected? You give people stuff and maybe that's what is at heart,” Bailey said. “Gov. Pritzker had the option of giving out more unemployment benefits when he received the COVID money from the federal government and he chose to go ahead and continue issuing payments.

 

“That was entirely wrong. We need people out working. I actually called for the governor several months ago to give a two-week notice to end all unemployment and then for everyone to reapply. We know we've got 460,000-plus people reaping state unemployment benefits right now, yet we've got about a million and a half job openings.”

 

Bailey believes people need to get back to work and the free ride needs to come to a stop. An example he used a family of six being able to have a household income “in excess of $80,000 with SNAP and federal and state benefits not working. There's something wrong with that.”

 

Bailey is also a supporter of law enforcement, believing that defunding is not an appropriate method regarding the public's safety. He feels taking such action is another tool in dismantling society. “People want to be protected.”

 

Another key to Bailey's campaign is correcting the pension system, that appears to be a problem.

 

“The pension problem has to be addressed,” Bailey said. “I am the only governor candidate, practically the only legislator talking about possible solutions.

 

“Everybody else is saying it's protected or there are solutions already in place. No, it just continues to balloon out of control.

 

“I want to protect the earned obligation of the pensioner and I want to protect that future. To do that, we've got to stop the downhill slide now and talk about,” Bailey said.

 

Part of his proposed solution is to converse with the people that matter to him — the public. He wants to hear what people have to say about the problems being faced.

 

“I don't want to talk to the union bosses, and I don't want to talk to the political leaders,” Bailey said. “I want to talk to the people and offer solutions and see what's good with them and what's not. See what ideas they have. We have to come up with a final fix for the pension problem.

 

“There's been so many changes and both people are at fault. We have a short window to get a lot stuff corrected. People are hungry for change. People want something that's real.”

 

This works into his idea of zero budget. Bailey said that he has asked for some time about getting an audit on the current budget.

 

“Everyone laughs and scoffs, saying it costs too much,” Bailey said. “We'll do it backwards, just start at zero and build what they need for their agency, then we'll know what exactly needs paid for.”

 

According to Wikipedia, there are four Republicans who have declared their candidacy. Besides Bailey, there are businessman Gary Rabine, former state senator Paul Schimpf and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan. According to the website, among the potential candidates are 53rd District Sen. Jason Barickman, whose district includes Livingston County, as well as Sen. Bill Brady and radio personality Mancow Mueller.