GOP hopefuls for governor speak at Washington forum

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 11:08 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (25 News) - Five Republican candidates vying to take on Governor JB Pritzker in the fall general election took to the stage at Five Points Washington Monday night to answer questions on voters’ minds.

The Central Illinois 2022 Republicans Gubernatorial Candidate Forum distributed six invitations to the candidates still in the running. In attendance were state Senator Darren Bailey, businessman Gary Rabine, state Senator Paul Schimpf, attorney Max Solomon, and businessman Jesse Sullivan. Absent was mayor of Aurora Richard Irvin, who did not provide a reason as to why he was not in attendance. We reached out to Irvin’s press team multiple times requesting a comment, but have not heard back.

The bulk of the event was taken up by moderated questioning, followed by selected questions picked from the audience. Topics of discussion included law enforcement, the balance of power, education, gun control, pensions, critical race theory, and subject matter the candidates wanted to bring up themselves. One of them was the absence of Irvin from the forum. Bailey brought attention to the empty seat on the stage at several points over the course of the event.

“You know why this gentleman over here that’s not here has spent 80% of his $12.5 million attacking just me?” asked Bailey while pointing to the unoccupied stool. “Because I’m winning, and he knows it.”

A recurring theme throughout the responses was the opposition to Governor Pritzker’s policies and approaches to everything from the state budget to his handling of the pandemic. The topic of disgraced House Speaker Mike Madigan was also brought up on several occasions.

“History will show that our governor did the absolute worst job of any governor in the country,” said Rabine. “He said he cared about lives, but he didn’t care about livelihoods.”

On the subject of the Democratic opposition, candidates laid out their plans on how their plans to collaborate, or work alongside, the opposing party.

“You give the Democrats an inch, they take a mile,” said Solomon. “I’m going to make sure that every ballot a Democrat appears (on) is contested by a Republican...I’m not playing nice.”

During the closing statements, many of the candidates conveyed messages of optimism about where they thought the party could go, and how their election to the governor’s seat would get it there.

“I know a lot of people are cynical, this is Illinois at the end of the day,” said Sullivan. “Things are about ready to change.”

The primary election will be held June 28, and the general election will be held November 8.

You can watch the full event on our Facebook page here.

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