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Former GOP gubernatorial nominee Bailey challenges Bost for U.S. House seat

Illinois State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) speaks next to former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Bailey for Illinois’ gubernatorial race, on Saturday, June 25, 2022, during a “Save America!” Rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon, Ill.

Darren Bailey, the former GOP gubernatorial nominee and Illinois lawmaker, will challenge U.S. Rep. Mike Bost next year for the state’s 12th congressional district seat, Bailey said Tuesday in a campaign video.

He also filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission on Tuesday morning to run for the office and to create a political action committee. That will be followed by a Fourth of July event at his farm, according to Politico.

“I will fight for the America we all believe in,” Bailey said. “It’s not an option to sit on the sidelines. It’s time to fight. That’s why I’m proud to announce that I’m running for Congress to work for you — not the special interests.”

Bailey’s announcement will pit two conservative members of the Republican party against one another, likely vying for the support of former President Donald Trump as well.

After Democrats redrew Illinois’ districts in 2021, the new 12th congressional district — which stretches across the southern third of the state, including O’Fallon, Shiloh and Clinton and Monroe counties in the Metro East — became an apparent lock for Republicans.

Bailey, previously endorsed by Trump, lost the 2022 gubernatorial race to Gov. J.B. Pritzker after the billionaire Democrat helped fund attack ads against Bailey’s moderate primary challenger.

Before running for the state’s top office, Bailey served one term in the Illinois House from 2019 to 2021 and one term in the Illinois Senate from 2021 to 2023.

The Xenia Republican farms corn, wheat and soybeans in south central Illinois. His wife, Cindy, runs a private Christian school in nearby Louisville.

Bailey, known for his far right views, sued Pritzker in 2020 over the governor’s stay-at-home order. He also questioned the outcome of the 2020 election and vowed to abolish the SAFE-T Act, the state’s controversial criminal justice reform that’s tied up in court.

“Joe Biden is ruining our country,” Bailey said in the video. “The southern border’s collapsed. Crime is rampant. Families are having trouble putting food on the table — and all of this woke stuff.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost was first elected to the U.S. House in 2014 — flipping a longtime Democratic stronghold. Previously, he served 20 years in the Illinois statehouse. (Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat)

Bost, who could not be immediately reached Tuesday regarding the announcement, said in May that he wasn’t concerned by Bailey.

“I’ve never feared anybody running against me,” the five-time congressman said on Politically Speaking. “The process is great because people can run. But let me tell you this: I have a great relationship with President Trump. The only thing that President Trump and I disagreed on was letting Rod Blagojevich out of jail.”

Bost, who’s previously been endorsed by Trump, will make it difficult for Bailey to attack from the right. He largely voted with the former president and chairs the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, an important body for the district that includes Scott Air Force Base.

Bailey’s entrance in the race on Tuesday confirms something many in Illinois political circles have expected the past couple months. Bost’s campaign, for example, has been gearing up fundraising — touting on Monday that it raised $450,000 in the second quarter this year.

“I’m confident we’ve got the resources to prepare for any challenge ahead of us and a proven, conservative record of results that positions us quite well for the upcoming campaign season,” Bost said in a statement about the fundraising.

Illinois voters will go to the polls next March.

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Illinois Newsroom gets stories from public radio stations from across the state, including WBEZ-Chicago, WCBU-Peoria, WGLT-Normal, WVIK-Rock Island, WIUM-Macomb, WNIJ-DeKalb, WSIU-Carbondale, WUIS-Springfield, and St. Louis Public Radio.

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