Republican Bailey to air Chicago TV ads after Uihlein pumps $ 2.5 million more into campaign

Warning they are “turning up the heat,” Republican Darren Bailey’s campaign for governor is planning to begin airing TV ads in Chicago and rest of the state next week, thanks to another seven-figure infusion of cash from conservative billionaire Dick Uihlein.

The $ 2.5 million that the Lake Forest GOP megadonor dropped into Bailey’s war chest on Friday comes just days after a poll showed the gap between the downstate state senator and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has narrowed in the wide-open GOP primary race for governor.

“We have strong grassroots support across the state and polling shows we are positioned to win this election,” Bailey campaign spokesman Joe DeBose told the Sun-Times in a text message late Friday.

“Darren Bailey is the true conservative in this race and we are focused on fighting for working families who are in desperate need of tax relief, safer communities, stronger schools, and a leader like Darren who will continue standing up for them and their freedoms against the political elites. ”

The $ 1.8 million ad buy set to begin across Illinois on Monday will mark the first TV commercials that Bailey has aired in the Chicago area.

“We’re turning up the heat,” DeBose said.

The latest contribution from Uihlein brings his contributions to Bailey’s campaign to more than $ 6 million. But that still pales in comparison to the competing largesse from hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who so far is bankrolling Irvin’s bid for governor to the tune of $ 45 million.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, left, in 2019; billionaire hedge fund Ken Griffin, right, in 2018.

File Photos by Patrick Kunzer / Daily Herald; Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

The GOP gubernatorial primary has largely turned into a battle between Irvin and Bailey. The Aurora mayor was leading the pack in a poll from WGN-TV by Emerson College Polling this week, but the survey showed Bailey within striking distance.

According to the poll, which surveyed likely GOP primary voters, about 24.1% of respondents plan to vote for Irvin, while 19.8% favored Bailey. That spread could be surmountable for Bailey or any of the other GOP hopefuls, considering that nearly 40% of those surveyed said they were still undecided.

Bailey has largely run to the right of Irvin, claiming to be the most conservative Republican in the race. Bailey has vowed to repeal key abortion rights protection in Illinois by communicating the “ideals of hope.”

State Sen.  Darren Bailey

State Sen. Darren Bailey speaks about the leak of a Supreme Court opinion that may overturn Roe v. Wade during a news conference in Chicago earlier this month.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times file

Irvin has chosen carefully the few words he has uttered on the topic of abortion, which has become a flashpoint across the country. Irwin dodged questions on abortion rights earlier this week following a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Bailey won the endorsement from leading anti-abortion groups earlier this month.

Other GOP candidates vying for their party’s nomination include Petersburg venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine, state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo and Hazel Crest lawyer Max Solomon.

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