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Downstate farmer Darren Bailey amps up class warfare attacks on Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who he accuses of having ‘soft hands’

Chicago Tribune

Friday, August 5, 2022  |  Article  |  Rick Pearson

Republican candidate for governor Darren Bailey upped his class warfare attack on Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker with a new video Thursday in which the wealthy downstate farmer contends the billionaire first-term governor has “soft hands” and “never worked a day” in his life.

“J.B. Pritzker, you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You inherited billions of dollars from your family. You have millions stashed away on islands most folks have never heard of, let alone visited. You’ve never woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat worrying about keeping a job or managing payroll,” Bailey says in the two-and-a-half minute video released on social media.

“You sit around with your soft hands, laughing with your snooty friends at the downstate farmer who thinks that he can make a difference,” Bailey says. “Well, you got one thing wrong. I don’t think I can make a difference. I know I can make a difference because I know what it takes to work hard and build something, and you don’t have a clue.”

Bailey’s video is a response to a new TV ad being run by Pritzker, an entrepreneur and Hyatt Hotels heir, that contends the Republican’s campaign is being subsidized by taxpayers through government subsidies received by his family’s farming and related businesses.

“Darren Bailey’s taken over $2 million in government money. The same Darren Bailey who acts like he’s against government support. And Bailey got caught taking a fortune in PPP money just weeks before giving $150,000 to his campaign. So, he’s running for governor courtesy of you,” the ad’s announcer says.

Much of the ad is based on a Jan. 14 Chicago Tribune story reporting that while Bailey, a state senator from Xenia, has decried “free stuff” and “handouts” from the government, largely in relation to pandemic assistance, he has received thousands of dollars from federal programs.

The article detailed how Bailey’s family businesses received $569,045 in federal paycheck protection program loans from April 2020 to February 2021, including a $231,475 loan a month before he gave his campaign $150,000.

As was the case with most paycheck protection program loans, Bailey’s loans were forgiven.

The article also described an additional $282,424 that Bailey Family Farms got in 2020 under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to compensate farmers for COVID-19 related losses.

Bailey’s farming operation also has received $2.1 million in federal agriculture subsidies since 1995, according to a database compiled by the Environmental Working Group, an organization backed by progressive money.

Bailey’s campaign said at the time that his family’s businesses followed the law in obtaining government loans and subsidies and that there was no connection to the PPP loan and his subsequent personal loan to his campaign.

Bailey has engaged in class warfare before, frequently calling Pritzker an “out-of-touch billionaire.” In his new video, Bailey also calls Pritzker a “trust fund kid” and talks about the toil of farming while accusing the governor and his “Gold Coast friends” of mocking “regular working folks.”

Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Natalie Edelstein said Bailey was “a hypocrite.”

“He has repeatedly tried to slash the social safety net and throw Illinoisans off benefits, while quietly raking in millions of dollars in government money. He cannot be trusted to look out for working families,” Edelstein said in a statement.