Pritzker is re-elected as governor of Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker easily defeated challenger Darren Bailey in a race marked by near-constant acrimony and massive spending.

Pritzker, a Democrat who had never held political office prior to his gubernatorial victory in 2018, won re-election with a campaign focused on fiscal stability and taxpayer relief. He peppered his stump speech with claims that Bailey, a first-term state senator and farmer from southern Illinois who supports former President Donald Trump, is “too extreme” for Democrat-dominated Illinois.

Pritzker, a 57-year-old billionaire equity investor and philanthropist, won on Tuesday to boost his national profile, which he boosted earlier this year with a trip to the early primary state of New Hampshire and by raising millions of dollars for Democrats across the country. However, when pressed by Bailey during two televised debates, he stated that he intended to serve his entire four-year term and support President Joe Biden’s reelection in 2024.

Prior to Tuesday’s election, Pritzker and his Republican opponent had accused each other of being out of touch and too extreme.

Pritzker was elected in 2019 after defeating an increasingly unpopular Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, whose efforts to implement a far-reaching conservative agenda were thwarted by a powerful Democratic-controlled legislature. The heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune pounded the airwaves with ads labeling Bailey with an ideology that differs from Rauner’s on issues such as abortion access and gun restrictions, and has no concrete proposals to prevent crime, which was the focus of his campaign.

Bailey claims Pritzker’s desire to be “the most radical leftist governor in America” is decimating the state by coddling criminals, providing unrestricted abortion, and spending excessively on social programs.

Pritzker campaigned this year on balancing the budget for four years, offering $1.8 billion in taxpayer relief last spring, and reducing a mountain of debt, mostly in vendor overdue bills. However, spending has increased, in part due to federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds, which Bailey claims were used to balance the books. Pritzker has stated that the funds were only used for one-time relief measures.

Bailey, 56, has made crime in Chicago a focal point of his campaign, and he was mocked when he called the city a “crime-ridden corrupt hellhole.” As a result, he renamed it “Pritzkerville,” claiming that “every one of Gov. Pritzker’s extreme policies is destroying the city.” Pritzker emphasized investments in state police and crime detection, provisions that Bailey voted against. But the Republican says he opposed the moves because they were part of a massive bill drafted with little input from his party.

Bailey, from the southern Illinois town of Xenia, strongly supports gun rights, despite the governor’s desire to ban semi-automatic rifles. Bailey has mocked him for failing to accomplish this in four years of Democratic supermajority control of the House and Senate.

Despite the likelihood that control will be maintained, Bailey has pledged to repeal the SAFE-T Act, a criminal justice overhaul enacted by Democrats last year that establishes new standards for policing and discipline, limits the use of force against criminal suspects, and eliminates the use of cash bail for violent offenders.

Bailey contends that eliminating cash bail means pretrial freedom for people accused of heinous crimes. According to Pritzker, judges will be able to keep violent suspects locked up and prevent the wealthy from buying their release while they await trial.

Abortion access has made national headlines since the Supreme Court overturned the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision legalizing the procedure. Abortion is legal in Illinois before fetal viability (24 to 26 weeks) or after that period to protect the patient’s health or life.

Bailey is against abortion, especially taxpayer-funded abortion, and he opposes any expansion of access to the procedure. He has pledged, however, that abortion restrictions are not on his agenda because, with Democrats likely to maintain a stranglehold on the Legislature, no such restriction would reach his desk.

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