The Prairie State's Packed Republican Primary
Voters cast their ballots on Tuesday at the Latin American Motorcycle Association in Chicago. Illinois voters will be decide on candidates for governor, secretary of state and several other key positions in state government. (Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)
By Micah Hart | Tuesday, 28 June 2022 06:28 PM
By Tuesday night, Illinois will have concluded its primary elections.
Even before the Republican nominee is known, the nationally watched governor's race is shaping up to be competitive both politically and financially.
Six Republican candidates are vying for the chance to compete against Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat.
The race is also attracting national attention, with wealthy political powers battling it out on behalf of their candidates.
According to the Financial Times, Pritzker is an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, meaning he has a sizable war chest. The governor has funded his own campaign with as much as $125 million.
A strategy commonly seen in the political arena is on full display by Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association. NPR reports that this Democratic team has paired together to clear the way for an easy Pritzker victory in the fall by launching ads deeming the front-running GOP candidate, state Sen. Darren Bailey, as too conservative. In addition, other ads attack his leading Republican rival, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
In the twilight hours of the campaign, Pritzker and the DGA seem to be siphoning votes away from Irvin, another top contender.
The Republican side, however, maintains significant war chests of its own. Ken Griffin, billionaire and CEO of the hedge fund company Citadel LLC, backed Irvin. Republican powerhouse donor Richard ''Dick'' Uihlein threw his money behind Bailey.
Three of the candidates, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, attorney and professor Max Solomon, and businessman Jesse Sullivan spoke to Newsmax about the upcoming race.
The race may have just become less winnable for the three, with a late endorsement of Bailey from former President Donald Trump.
Asked before Trump endorsed Bailey, the three candidates said they would welcome an endorsement from the ''MAGA president.''
Solomon, however, said: ''I don’t necessarily need his endorsement to win in Illinois.''
Illinois is a state Biden won in 2020 by roughly 17 percentage points, and Pritzker won in 2018 by just shy of 16 percentage points.
The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter ranked the Illinois gubernatorial race as ''Solid Democrat.'' Each of the Republicans, to no one’s surprise, thinks they have what it takes to beat Gov. Pritzker.
''It’s a totally winnable race,'' Sullivan told Newsmax. ''It’s going to take an outsider to change it and fix it.''
Sullivan says that with a background in business and strong Christian and family values, he is the candidate that can bring prosperity and safety to Illinois.
Schimpf, the son of two public school teachers, argued that the Republican Party must remain united, and that he is the only candidate that can do that within the vast GOP.
''We are running on American values,'' Solomon said. ''We are not running on divisive social issues.''
Nevertheless, Solomon exclaimed: ''Even Democrats are tired of Democrats. People are going to be sending a message.''
To Solomon, this election is going to be a referendum against Pritzker.
Focusing on issues as varied as abortion and inflation, these candidates hope to reach the everyday Illinois voter through their platforms and stories.
''I’m not a politician,'' Sullivan told us. ''I’m an outsider. It’s going to take an outsider to change it and fix'' Illinois.
With a diverse family of his own — a Hispanic wife and adopted children who are Black — Sullivan stresses that he will be a leader for every Illinoisan.
Schimpf said: ''I can empathize with families that inflation poses a threat to financial security. I am not a billionaire.''
Solomon echoed his experience and that of his running mate, evangelist Latasha Fields. ''Latasha and I are [at] the bottom financially, and in name recognition as well,'' he told us, ''In every shape, way and form, we are at the bottom.''
Solomon emphasized that when people see him and his running mate, they see a reflection of themselves.
With the primary already set to be a financial battle, voters will have to wait and see if Trump-endorsed Bailey takes the reins, or if somebody will come out of the proverbial woodwork and pull off an upset.
Schimpf said: ''2022 is shaping up to be a red wave for the Republican Party. What we need to remember is in 2010 it was the same situation. Illinois still lost the governor election.''
He added that the fate of the Illinois Republican Party rests in being united to beat Pritzker.
Micah Hart, a Newsmax intern, is studying politics and journalism at Hillsdale College in Michigan.