By JOHN O’CONNOR, Associated Press
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Democratic governor of Illinois and his Republican challenger accused each other of being out of touch and too extreme ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Governor JB Pritzker took office in 2019 after defeating an increasingly unpopular GOP governor, Bruce Rauner, whose quest for a far-reaching conservative agenda was blocked by a powerful Democratic-controlled legislature. Now Pritzker argues his opponent, Sen. Darren Bailey, is going beyond Rauner’s ideology and being “too extreme” on issues like abortion access and gun restrictions, and has no concrete proposals for reducing crime or strengthening education or social services.
Bailey says the 57-year-old billionaire and philanthropist’s drive to be ‘America’s most radical leftist governor’ is decimating the state by coddling criminals, offering unrestricted abortion and spending too much on programs social.
Pritzker campaigned this year to balance the budget for four years, delivering $1.8 billion in relief to taxpayers last spring and paying off a mountain of debt, mostly overdue bills to suppliers. But spending has increased, in part because of federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds that Bailey said were used to balance the books. Pritzker pointed out that the money was used for one-time relief measures.
Bailey, 56, has made Chicago crime a centerpiece of his campaign and was rocked by ridicule when he called the nation’s third-largest city a “corrupt, criminal hellhole.” This prompted him to rename it “Pritzkerville” because “everyone from Governor Pritzker’s extreme policies is destroying the city. Pritzker pointed to investments in state policing and crime detection, provisions Bailey is quick to point out against, but the Republican says he opposed those measures under massive legislation drafted with little contribution from his party.
A farmer from the southern Illinois town of Xenia, Bailey is a strong supporter of gun rights while the governor wants to ban semi-automatic rifles. Bailey mocked him for not doing that in four years with Democratic supermajority control of the House and Senate.
Despite the likelihood of continued scrutiny, Bailey has pledged to repeal the SAFE-T Act Democrats passed last year, a criminal justice overhaul that sets new standards for policing. and discipline, restricts the use of force against suspects and ends the use of cash bail. for violent offenders.
Eliminating cash bail means pretrial freedom for those suspected of horrific crimes, Bailey argues. Pritzker says judges will be able to keep violent suspects locked up and prevent the wealthy from buying their freedom while awaiting trial.
Abortion access made headlines in races nationwide after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, 50, legalizing the procedure. Illinois has no restrictions on abortion before fetal viability of 24 to 26 weeks or after this period to preserve the health or life of the patient.
Bailey opposes abortion, especially taxpayer-funded abortion, and he opposes any expansion of access to the procedure. However, he promised abortion restrictions were not on his agenda because with Democrats likely to retain a stranglehold on the Legislature, no such restrictions would reach his desk.
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