Multibillionaire Democratic Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker and his allies are spending tens of millions of dollars to stop a black Republican veteran from challenging the incumbent in November.
In the last five weeks alone, Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) have dropped more than $12 million on TV ads meant to sink Republican Richard Irvin, an Army veteran who became Aurora, Ill.'s first black mayor in 2017—and to elevate his Republican primary opponent, state lawmaker Darren Bailey. Those ads attack Irvin's record as a defense attorney and call Bailey "too conservative for Illinois," an attack intended to boost him in the June GOP primary. With digital ads factored in, Democrats are on pace to spend a total of $32 million on similar spots before the primary's conclusion, ad spending data obtained by the Washington Free Beacon show.
The massive spending shows just how much Pritzker fears a general election fight against Irvin, who was raised by a single mother in Aurora's housing projects. The DGA started its anti-Irvin assault in March, just days after a Tulchin Research poll showed Pritzker trailing the Republican mayor in the state's all-important suburbs. Months later, during a May candidate forum, fellow Republican gubernatorial hopeful Paul Schimpf said it's "no secret that the Democrats recognize that Darren [Bailey] is the easiest opponent for J.B. Pritzker in the general election."