MENDON, Ill. — Former President Donald Trump took advantage of a rural rally in west-central Illinois on Saturday night to endorse Darren Bailey for the Republican nomination for governor in Tuesday’s primary, as he also reaffirmed his support for U.S. Representative Mary Miller and took a victory lap for the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Darren is a farmer and he is a fighter and he was an outstanding warrior in the Illinois State Senate where he is totally, totally respected by everyone,” Trump told a crowd of thousands. at the Adams County Fairgrounds near Quincy.
“He will crack down on the violent crime that is eating up our Democratic-run cities and restore the State of Illinois to greatness. Darren has my complete and utter endorsement,” Trump said, calling Democratic Governor JB Pritzker’s first term and re-election “one of the worst governors in America.”
Bailey, a staunch Trump supporter who actively sought the former president’s endorsement as a cornerstone of success in a six-party primary race for the GOP, said he would work to get Illinois to welcome a new candidacy from Trump in the White House in 2024.
“Here is the market. I won’t lie to anyone and I won’t let anything go unnoticed. And when I see him, I’ll name him,” Bailey said after Trump recounted the story of Bailey plucking a misplaced hair from the former president’s head during pre-rally photos.
“We’ve got our work cut out here in Illinois, my friends,” Bailey said. “I promised President Trump that in 2024 Illinois would roll out the red carpet for him because Illinois would be ready for President Trump.”
Trump lost Illinois by 17% of the vote in his winning bid for president in 2016 and losing re-election in 2020.
Trump, who has often delayed endorsements unless he’s sure a candidate will win, predicted that Bailey “would win the primary by a huge margin and you’re going to go on and win the election.”
Bailey, a delegate to Trump’s 2020 presidential nomination, comes from an area of southern Illinois where voters have strongly backed the former president, and he has sought to cultivate their support in his gubernatorial bid. as a base of support that gradually grew across the state. .
He has also been Pritzker’s most outspoken critic, beginning with — ultimately unsuccessful — lawsuits that sought to block the Democratic governor’s pandemic mitigation orders while promoting an evangelical rural populist candidacy that denounces the cultural policies of the city of Chicago.
Bailey is among a group of candidates that includes Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, investor Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg, businessman Gary Rabine of Bull Valley, former state senator Paul Schimpf of Waterloo and Hazel Crest’s attorney Max Solomon.
Trump’s visit was also aimed at bolstering the participation of Miller, whose freshman term has been rocked by controversy, in a contest against five-term Republican U.S. Representative Rodney Davis in the newly designated 15th congressional district. The game between Miller and Davis, an offshoot of the Democratic redistricting after the 2020 census, is the only one between Republican incumbents in Congress in Tuesday’s state primary.
Trump endorsed Miller on Jan. 1 and held a subsequent fundraiser for her at his Mar-a-Lago estate. But Davis has the support of much of the local GOP establishment, including 31 of the district’s 35 county GOP chairs as well as neighboring GOP congressmen Darin LaHood of Peoria and Mike Bost of Murphysboro.
“With Mary, you can elect a fearless America First Patriot,” Trump said. “She’s an amazing woman, someone I’ve come to know well. She’s been with me since day one. No bad statements, you know, saying bad things about me two years ago, he three years ago, a year ago,” Trump said, adding that she is “a warrior for our movement.”
Continuing to attack the two Republicans on the House Select Committee investigating Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection on Capitol Hill, the former president told the crowd, “If you want to send a message to (Wyoming US Rep.) Liz Cheney, (Illinois) U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger and (Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House) Nancy Pelosi and the fake news media, so this Tuesday you have to vote for a truly wonderful person, Mary Miller.
Miller said that “on behalf of MAGA patriots in America,” she wanted to thank Trump “for the historic victory for white lives on the Supreme Court,” but did not specify what she meant. A campaign spokesperson said after the rally that Miller meant “right to life” but misspoke.
The court’s decision, Miller said, “never would have been possible if the RINO Never-Trump had succeeded,” – using the term to label Davis a “Republican in name only.”
After Trump’s speech, Davis predicted he would win on Tuesday even as he sought to underscore his support for the former president’s policies at the White House.
“I’ve always said I’m proud of my conservative record of working with Trump when he was in office. Together, we protected the unborn, championed the Second Amendment, cut taxes, secured our border, supported our police and our farmers, and so much more,” Davis said in a statement.
Trump also sought to take credit for the appointment of three conservative justices during his presidency and their role in Friday’s 6-3 ruling that overturned the 1973 court ruling that gave women the right to marry. abortions without undue government interference.
“The court has rendered a victory for the Constitution, a victory for the rule of law and above all, a victory for life,” Trump said. Quoting generations of the anti-abortion movement as well as constitutional conservatives, “your boundless love, sacrifice and dedication has finally been fully rewarded.”
The crowd chanted “Thank you, Trump.”
Thousands of Trump supporters gathered inside and around the fairgrounds, not far from the Mississippi River bluffs across from Missouri, many sporting red “Make America Great Again” hats, others wearing shirts proclaiming “Jesus is my saviour. Trump is my president” and “God, guns and Trump”.
Symbolizing the influence Trump still wields over Republican voters, Rhonda Goodwin of nearby Quincy admitted not knowing much about Miller’s two years in Congress but said the former president’s endorsement was good enough for her.
“Anyone who endorses Trump is likely to be the winner,” Goodwin said. “I didn’t do a lot of my own research. I thought his people looked into it more than I ever could and if he approves of it, that’s all I need.