Grasping for straws: Republican’s reliance on fake news leads nowhere as Pritzker widens lead


Matt Marton | AP

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a campaign rally that Vice President Kamala Harris attended at XS Tennis and Education Foundation, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Chicago.

As tomorrow’s election day swiftly approaches, the Illinois gubernatorial race is coming to a close. 

Republican challenger Darren Bailey’s best efforts to recruit independent voters has fallen short behind Democratic incumbent Governor J.B. Pritzker, who now leads by 13.5 points, according to FiveThirtyEight. 

Many feel any turn around from either party is not possible so close to the election. 

“Thirteen points is a pretty big deficit to overcome, particularly this close to the election, and that might also explain why we’re seeing more desperation moves, if you will, correctly, so these fake newspapers are targeting counties around the Chicagoland area,” said Jeff Blevins, a journalism and public affairs professor at the University of Cincinnati. “We know offhand you might assume that he probably has a lot of support from southern from central Illinois. But Chicago, the urban area, just has so much population that tends to lead Democrats, so [Bailey is] probably not going to win.”

Bailey still has a strong following among the rest of Illinois with his reputation as a working class ally. While most of Bailey’s following is among the rest of Illinois outside of Cook County, there are some outliers.

“Bailey is a good candidate,” Northwest Side GOP Club Executive Director Jeff Fiedler said. “I think he’s a good guy. I think it’s hard for people that live in Chicago. He comes from a different lifestyle, and he looks at things in a different way. And we’re so conditioned in the city and in Cook County to look at things that way and most people in Chicago don’t get out and don’t see what the rest of the state is like.” 

Fiedler believes Chicago has fallen from where the city used to be and needs a new approach after Pritzker.

“I hope people will warm up to his approach and consider it, rather than just write him off because he’s not a billionaire politician from Chicago, but he’s a really successful businessman,” Fiedler said. “Even though he’s maybe worth a couple million dollars, he’s a lot more like the guy on the street than JB Pritzker. Darren called Chicago a hellhole. People use different phrases. I personally probably wouldn’t have said hellhole but I would ask anybody, ‘Are you really happy with the way things are?’”

While highly controversial to more conservative areas in rural Illinois, Pritzker’s support of reproductive rights has made other voter’s decisions easy. 

Kelly Stein, who works in Chicago Public Schools, recently switched her political standing due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

“I don’t believe I can ever vote for a politician who doesn’t believe in my rights,” Stein said. “I want to like Darren. He seems like a stand up guy, but he’s extremely against abortion, and I just can’t live with myself voting for another candidate who thinks women are second-class citizens.”

Stein has recently become a volunteer for Planned Parenthood and hopes Pritzker continues to keep his promise of Illinois as an “oasis for abortion access.” 

“I don’t understand this sentiment against one-issue voting,” Stein said. “If it’s one of the most important topics for me, why wouldn’t I choose whoever focuses on that?”

When hitting the Chicago suburbs last week, Bailey recently recruited the former Democrat, now Independent congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to help campaign for the Independent voters. Pritzker criticized Gabbard for “helping Bailey spread misinformation about [J.B.’s] policies.”

One of Pritzker’s and many other Democrats’ concerns is that Bailey will object to the election results if they do not fall in his favor. The Pritzker campaign included this in a letter to Bailey’s campaign asking to vow the results are accurate.

“Bailey has been an election denier and has refused to accept the results from the 2020 presidential election,” Blevins said. “They’re trying to lead themselves out by suggesting that it was stolen, and that the system was rigged. What’s particularly frustrating about this is that none of these claims have been proven in a court of law, and somehow, that doesn’t seem to matter. It just casts this shadow of illegitimacy, and maybe you think it’s good for you individually. Politically, it has long term deteriorating effects on our belief in the system.”