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Irvin, Bailey front-runners in GOP governor primary in Illinois: poll

A city mayor and state senator are at the head of the pack in Illinois’s Republican gubernatorial primary, according to a new WGN-The Hill-Emerson College Poll.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is polling ahead of his opponents, with support from 24 percent of likely Republican voters, while state Sen. Darren Bailey is polling at about 20 percent.

Aurora is located in metropolitan Chicago, with a population of about 200,000, making it the state’s second largest city. Bailey is from Louisville, a small town in central Illinois.

About 37 percent of likely Republican voters remain undecided, according to the poll, with more than a month to go before the primary election.

Other Republican primary candidates for Illinois governor are polling below 10 percent, including businessman Gary Rabine and equity investor Jesse Sullivan. Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf and attorney Max Solomon are polling around 2 percent.

Whoever wins the GOP primary in June will likely face off against incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), who has considerable funds at his disposal and a favorable approvals rating in the state.

Irvin, who would be the state’s first Black governor, is also building up his campaign funds, collecting $20 million with the backing of hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin. Bailey is also adding on to his pile in a race that has been dubbed a battle of the billionaires.

Amid soaring inflation and record-high gas prices, 54 percent of Republican primary voters said the economy was their top concern, followed by crime at 15 percent and immigration at 7 percent.

About 30 percent of likely Republican primary voters said Irvin is best suited to tackle crime, compared to 19 percent for Bailey.

On the economy, the two candidates are neck-and-neck, with 21.6 percent of likely Republican primary voters saying Bailey would handle the economy better compared to 20.9 percent for Irvin.

Former President Trump, who touts himself as a kingmaker for Republican candidates, has not weighed in on the primary, which is slated for June 28.

Trump’s endorsement could make a big difference. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans in the poll say they would support whoever Trump endorsed in the race.

Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College polling, noted that “both Bailey and Irvin would benefit from a Trump endorsement” but added Irvin is pulling ahead among voters who are less inclined to back a Trump-endorsed candidate.

The WGN-The Hill-Emerson College poll of Republican primary voters was conducted May 6 to May 8 among 1,000 likely Republican voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Updated at 8:41 a.m. on May 13.

Tags Chicago Darren Bailey Darren Bailey governor race Illinois JB Pritzker JB Pritzker Republican primary Richard Irvin
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