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Bailey turning some attention to down-ballot races

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2022

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

“We’re not the party of Trump,” Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie told an interviewer a couple of months ago. “I’m in the Republican Party and the party of Lincoln. And at the end of the day, the important thing is that we’re standing up for ideas and ideals and not a personality. And that is what the Republican Party has been about for decades, and what I believe we’re going to be going forward.”

At least as far as the Illinois governor’s race goes, that now seems less likely.

As you undoubtedly know by now, state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) did not appear to be gaining traction until the GOP primary battlefield was reshaped as a referendum on former President Donald Trump by big money pumped in from billionaire Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Republican billionaire Dick Uihlein.

The question now is whether that Trump referendum will move down the ballot. Two polls showed a very tight Republican attorney general primary with huge numbers of people who can’t decide between Ken Griffin-backed Steve Kim and outlandish, far-right COVID attorney Tom DeVore, who has been endorsed by Bailey. And Trump and Bailey have both endorsed U.S. Rep. Mary Miller over fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis.

And what about the state legislature?

While the House Republican Organization is formally staying out of the race in the open 87th District primary, House GOP Leader Jim Durkin has contributed $5,000 to candidate Mary Burress.

And a committee controlled by Durkin ally Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) has maxed out to Burress with a $59,900 contribution. Burress, the Tazewell County treasurer, is running against Tazewell County Board member and physician William Hauter.

The reason I mention this is that Burress is one of the only House Republican candidates I can find who is openly touting her support for former President Trump. “Mary Burress is the pro-Trump Republican working to make Illinois great again,” declares a headline on one mailer, which also features a photo of her next to the former POTUS.

With Bailey surging and a recent Chicago Sun-Times poll showing Trump still very popular with party members, it would seem to be a no-brainer for conservative Republican candidates to publicly attach themselves to one or the other or both in their advertising and social media posts.

Bailey has decided to take the initiative. And there are some unifying threads here: Durkin and the 2019 gas tax hike that Durkin eventually supported.

“We’ve got a whole list of anti-establishment reformers who we’re going to be endorsing in the next 24 hours,” a top Bailey official told me late last week.

Included on the list is Sen. Win Stoller (R-East Peoria). Stoller is up against Brett Nicklaus, who is backed by Durkin and others close to him.

There’s no love at all between Bailey and Durkin. The two clashed often when Bailey was in the House, and Durkin fully backed Richard Irvin. Both Durkin and Irvin’s running mate Rep. Avery Bourne voted to double the motor fuel tax in 2019, something Bailey often pounds home on the campaign trail as the price of gas has skyrocketed.

Bailey doesn’t seem to have any ideas about how to repair and upgrade our woefully dilapidated infrastructure without that money, but nobody seems to care.

Bailey also endorsed Republican Don Debolt over Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield), who voted for the gas tax increase as well. And Bailey’s backing former GOP Rep. John Cabello in his race against a candidate backed by a trade union that pushed hard to raise the gas tax. Cabello voted “no.”

Kent Gray is running against Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), who voted with his party leadership on the gas tax. Gray has not raised a lot of money, has a thick opposition research file, and Butler hasn’t taken any chances by spending big and campaigning hard. If Bailey’s coattails can drag Gray across the line … whew.

Bailey’s also supporting Travis Weaver against Rep. Mark Luft (R-Pekin), who wasn’t around for the gas tax vote but is backed heavily by Durkin and some unions. And he’s supporting Rep. Dave Welter’s opponent Jed Davis. Welter (R-Morris) is in House Republican leadership, so you already know where he was in 2019.

That was one tough vote in 2019. It took guts to take it, and I still think, despite the prices, it was the right thing to do for the state’s future. We’ll see if Bailey tries to connect those tax dots in voters’ minds or whether, as time expires, he’ll just try to win these races with his personality alone.

Subscribers know more.

* Press release…

State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey says Don Debolt is the only candidate for Senate in the 54th District Republican voters can trust to represent their values in Springfield.

“I fully support and endorse Don Debolt for State Senator,” Bailey said. “Don’s a true conservative, a businessman, and someone who will help reform Springfield and restore Illinois. Unfortunately, Don’s opponent betrayed taxpayers and voted to double the gas tax. We need to send principled reformers to Springfield who won’t join Democrats to raise taxes, and I hope voters will join me in supporting conservative Don Debolt for State Senate.”

The current average fuel price in Illinois is $5.53 per gallon nearly $1 higher than the prices in Missouri which are $4.67 per gallon.

“The reality is working families are paying far more in gas prices in Illinois than motorists in surrounding states because of the state’s high taxes,” Debolt said. “My opponent helped make that happen by surrendering his conservative values to help Democrats make Illinois’ gas taxes the second highest in the country. Voters can count on me to consistently represent the values we share as their voice in Springfield.”

Don Debolt’s life is centered around faith and family. He is a proud conservative Republican, a small business owner, and a C.P.A. for over 45 years. Don is running for State Senate because he is concerned with the future of southern Illinois. Springfield is broken, and high taxes and extreme policies push our children and grandchildren out of state. Don and his wife Linda live in Stewardson; they have been blessed with two sons and five grandchildren. The primary election is June 28th.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments »
  1. - Bruce( no not him) - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:03 am:

    ==Bailey doesn’t seem to have any ideas about how to repair and upgrade our woefully dilapidated infrastructure without that money, but nobody seems to care.==
    Politics in the GOP have become a cult of personality.
    Policy is ignored.


  2. - Watchful eye. - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:05 am:

    Thanks Mike Z. Nice work. Instead of agreeing on a candidate that can wi. In November you shoved a guy down everyone’s throat because you knew best. Now the party is Darren Baileys. Political malpractice, grift and greed all worked into one.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:20 am:

    Rich, good stuff, great explanations to the “status” of things

    To that too, anyone who thinks Pence is a moderate, as he spoke here in Chicago in the recent day(s), that’s unfair to moderates, as Pence has never been a moderate, before, during, after Trump… and one good thing at one good moment to stave off an insurrection does not make Pence a moderate, even compared to today’s “cult Republicans”

    To the post?

    Well, the irony is not lost on me, at least, as the SGOP tweeted they were looking for someone in Comms, all the while the message is clear… the GOP here in IL, the party that rejects Kinzinger here in IL, it’s a party moving toward “cult” not “far Right” thinking.

    If I’m Durkin… a coup may happen from *all* sides, but we may not even realize who will emerge Leader.

    I’ll wait to hear back from the SGOP for my interview…


  4. - Just Me 2 - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:22 am:

    Conservatives have been whining in Illinois for decades the Republican nominees weren’t conservative enough and that a lot of conservative refused to vote in November. They argue if they just had their favorite candidate once that person would surely win. What excuse will they have when Bailey loses?


  5. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:24 am:

    ===What excuse will they have when Bailey loses? ===

    Claim that the establishment GOP undermined him


  6. - Fizz - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:26 am:

    If Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri can function with lower overall taxes(including lower gas taxes) and have roads of similar quality, maybe Illinois could learn a thing or two from neighboring states. Also, gas taxes are regressive. Most progressives are against regressive taxes…right?


  7. - Kristen - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:29 am:

    Looks like the Trumpsters are trying bury Durkin, Irvin and Griffin by labeling them as “Liberal Democrats.” They should be careful what they wish for…they may end getting their wish or a more moderate 3rd party.


  8. - Curt Mercandante - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:30 am:

    When Durkin and his lapdogs start courting dem voters to cross over and vote for Welter Houston we have a problem. Going to be a long night next Tuesday for the Durkin lapgastax dogs.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:35 am:

    ===If Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri===

    Tell me you’ve never driven in certain states without telling me you’ve never driven in certain states.

    I-65 in Indiana as a first example…


  10. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:38 am:

    === “We’re not the party of Trump,” ===

    McConchie can say it until he’s blue in the face, but he now belongs to the MAGA Trump party. The party is dancing to the MAGAT tunes and his own choice for governor is touting its themes.

    Because of the demographics of Illinois, McConchie is trying to be MAGAT light. Bailey won’t let him. He is enjoying his position as primary leader and will play it aggressively.


  11. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:42 am:

    @Fizz -

    So Indiana’s gas tax just increased and is just $.07 lower than in Illinois but Indiana taxes diesel at $.07 more than Illinois does. From at Indiana gas tax story..

    “Indiana has two taxes on gasoline — a 7% sales tax and a tax directed to infrastructure projects.”

    Iowa increased their gas tax in 2015 under a Republican Governor.

    Missouri also raised their gas tax a year or two ago. Now its still way less than Illinois, but comparing the tax needs of the states is apples and oranges and ignores the fact that Missouri has a graduated income tax rate with a rate at 5.4% (which is? Higher than the rate in Illinois)


  12. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:44 am:

    Just to be clear - that 5.4% rate is the highest rate you can pay in Missouri. But still its higher than the flat rate for all incomes in Illinois.


  13. - Fizz - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:45 am:

    I65 doesn’t bother me driving to Indy…ok, in the winter when the wind is blowing it is snowing, l65 bothers me the same way i55 and i57 bother me.
    There is no reason our leaders can’t learn from the other states.


  14. - NorthsideNoMore - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:46 am:

    Would be nice too hear what Any of the candidates would actually do to address major issues Illinois faces instead of political attacks and grandstanding. Fix issues at DCFS & Vets Affairs ? What about a Long term Infrastructure plan? Education funding ? Pension debt etc etc


  15. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 9:49 am:

    ===There is no reason our leaders can’t learn from the other states.===

    What exactly is there to learn?

    Be specific.

    Further…

    Illinois is spending to make better roads and *safer* bridges that are in dire disrepair… or are you ok with bridges that might be or will be come dangerous?


  16. - Rabid - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:08 am:

    The bailey slate riding his coattails


  17. - btowntruthfromforgottonia - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:12 am:

    “We’re not the party of Trump,”

    Ohhhhhhhh yes they are.


  18. - walker - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:15 am:

    Given where he stands and what he had to work with, Bailey is working hard and delivering an impressive campaign.

    I just don’t think he will have the goods come November.


  19. - Juice - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:17 am:

    Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin and Michigan all receive hundreds of billions if not millions more in Federal matching dollars from Medicaid because their residents have significantly lower per capita income that we do.

    So I guess one thing we could learn from those states is to get people to stop making as much money. I doubt that’s what Fizz is suggesting though.


  20. - btowntruthfromforgottonia - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:19 am:

    Debolt talking about southern Illinois is…..something.
    He checked his district map….right?


  21. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:28 am:

    ==Looks like the Trumpsters are trying bury Durkin, Irvin and Griffin by labeling them as “Liberal Democrats.” They should be careful what they wish for…they may end getting their wish or a more moderate 3rd party==

    Durkin will go hard right, because that’s where the money and the power are, and those two things are telling the constituency where to go.

    Irvin, should he lose the primary, will return to being a well-compensated local entity, and a non-entity at any level higher.

    Griffin, should he value influence over whatever faint principles he has, can make the jump to the far-right and pretend he’s still anti-Trump, he just happens to back the pro-Trump slate on x, y, and z. Or he can kick back with his $25 billion, knowing that if the country burns down he’ll never get singed.

    The idea of any of these three aligning with Democrats is borderline hallucinatory. Unless the national Democrat orgs keep pushing further right in an effort to be a “moderate” option just to the left of Republicans, which… well, I should probably check the latest odds on that.


  22. - Excitable Boy - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:32 am:

    - lower overall taxes -

    3 out of 4 have graduated income tax rates.


  23. - Back to the Future - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 10:51 am:

    This Sunday Sun Times column always seems to get me thinking beyond the same old headlines on the Governor races I generally see every day in the media.
    Got to admit I did not give a thought to Bailey having coat tails, but in a very low turnout election adding some friends by endorsing their candidates could turn out to be a big plus.


  24. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 11:00 am:

    Missouri has personal property tax.

    Iowa’s top marginal rate is 8.5%.

    Indiana’s state sales tax is .75% higher than Illinois’.

    Indiana allows for counites to impose a local income tax. So in Indianapolis you pay 3.2% in state income taxes and then 2.02% in county income tax…. that rate is 5.22%…. that’s HIGHER than Illinois flat income tax rate.


  25. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 1:02 pm:

    =If Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri can function with lower overall taxes(including lower gas taxes) and have roads of similar quality, maybe Illinois could learn a thing or two from neighboring states.=

    What roads should we tear up and eliminate? We have too many miles of roads apparently as Illinois has nearly double the Interstate miles of those states mentioned and many thousands of miles more roads overall.

    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2008/hm60.cfm

    Should we get rid of all that GDP and those extra people?

    Do some research next time.


  26. - Annonin' - Tuesday, Jun 21, 22 @ 1:21 pm:

    How about another episode of “Ask Avery” Today’s question comes from Jeanie who writes would I better off taking the State School Supt. job, running Public Health where I could send out raiding parties to stop abortions or State Police Supt. … So many choices. Thanks, Love Your Winter Coats.


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