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Incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker faces off against challenger Darren Bailey in Illinois governor's election

The incumbent governer will be defending his seat against the Republican state senator in the 2022 midterm elections.

ILLINOIS, USA — Editor's note: The above video aired on October 18.

Incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) faces off against State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-IL)  in the 2022 Illinois gubernatorial election to be held on Nov. 8.

The race has been charged with energy, as the candidates frequently clash on ideals and character on and off of the debate stage.

Here's everything you need to know about the candidates for Illinois Governor in the 2022 midterm elections.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Credit: AP

The 57-year-old incumbent Democratic governor is seeking his second term, following his election to the seat in 2018.

The Duke University graduate, billionaire and nonprofit founder runs on a platform that echoes many other leading modern Democrats, including staunch defense of abortion rights, social justice for minority groups such as Black, women and LGBTQ+ Americans, the fight against climate change and boosting of renewable energy, criminal justice and police reform, and improving public safety, education, and health care.

The one-term governor has boasted many accomplishments in his four years in office, including a first-in-25-years budget surplus, strong COVID-19 response policy, the legalization of marijuana and embrace of the policy's monetary benefits, the passage of criminal justice reform including the elimination of cash bail, suspension of certain state taxes during the 2022 inflation crisis and the passage of clean energy legislation.

Pritzker's many detractors, namely Republicans and other conservative-aligned groups, have taken numerous issues with the implementation of many of the State's policies under his guidance. Critics have continued to point to Illinois's comparatively high tax rate, Chicago's crime rate and claims of State government corruption amid the Mike Madigan scandal. Many groups have been happy to file legal challenges to the governor's policies, namely, COVID-19 regulations, claiming government overreach and invasion of freedoms, and the SAFE-T criminal justice reform bill, claiming sloppy writing and a "soft-on-crime" stance.

State Sen. Darren Bailey

Credit: Bailey for Illinois
Darren Bailey is one of six Republican candidates vying for the Illinois governor's office this election year.

The 56-year-old Republican state senator, one of Gov. Pritzker's most outspoken critics, is challenging his seat.

A native and outspoken advocate of rural southern Illinois, Bailey made his ascension in Illinois state politics by being one of the loudest voices opposing Gov. Pritzker. He went so far as to protest the governor's COVID-19 regulations by refusing to wear a mask to a legislative gathering and walking out of the arena in protest in May 2020, just a few months into the pandemic when the virus was making heavy progress. He has also accused the governor of being a child groomer, with no factual evidence to support the claim, after he signed new sex education standards into law and of having a "crime-enabling agenda" after his signing of the SAFE-T act.

Bailey is a self-described deep-rooted conservative and echoes many of the policies and beliefs held by the GOP party platform. He staunchly opposes abortion, calling it "an atrocity," COVID-19 regulations, gun control, aggressive climate change policy and "critical race theory." 

He advocates for greater funding and support of police, education reform, jobs in the fuel sector, lower taxes, political office term limits and policies that benefit Illinois's agricultural industry. Bailey's success among hardline conservatives has even earned him an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

His success in the Republican party puts him at odds with the typically-Democratic lean of the state and some of his actions and viewpoints earn scathing headlines. Aside from the aforementioned COVID mask protest, his platform generates heavy criticism and scorn from left-wing organizations, many workers' unions, Jewish groups, the LGBTQ+ community and especially women, as his staunch anti-abortion stance remains unpopular as the repeal of Roe v. Wade in June put abortion rights back into the national spotlight. While Trump's endorsement may be a big advantage to Republican voters, the divisive, twice-impeached and FBI-investigated former President's association may be a line in the sand for others.

Bailey also drew fire for a 2017 comment where he seemed to indicate that the history of abortion is worse than the Holocaust.

"The attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn't even compare on a shadow of the life that has been lost with abortion since its legalization," he said in a campaign interview posted as a video to his Facebook page.

As a response to the controversy, Bailey claimed that Jewish leaders agreed with him, did not apologize, and issued a clarification that read:

"The Holocaust is a human tragedy without parallel. In no way was I attempting to diminish the atrocities of the Holocaust and its stain on history. I meant to emphasize the tragedy of millions of babies being lost."

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