Aurora's Irvin expected to pick downstate lawmaker on GOP gubernatorial ticket
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is expected to choose a downstate Republican as a running mate when he announces his candidacy for governor next week, sources told the Daily Herald Friday.
State Rep. Avery Bourne of Montgomery County is anticipated to join Irvin's ticket as soon as Monday at a campaign event in Aurora, which will kick off a battle royale to win the Republican primary June 28.
Four other contenders are seeking their party's nomination and the chance to take on Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the general election.
Irvin did not return calls for comment, but several GOP insiders said should the two-term mayor, former assistant state's attorney and Army veteran run, he has impressive credentials and his suburban base is key.
"He's got a military background, he's a prosecutor ... I hear lots of good things about him," Republican State Central Committee member Bob Grogan of Downers Grove said.
Many Republican voters, however, likely will want an explanation for why Irvin pulled Democratic ballots in the 2014, 2016 and 2020 general primaries and in the 2017 and 2021 consolidated primaries.
Irvin picked a Republican ballot in the 2018 primary that former Gov. Bruce Rauner won.
The mayor's potential lieutenant governor pick, Bourne, comes from a farming family and serves on the House appropriations and education committees. The 29-year-old represents the state's 95th District.
Wealthy Republican donor and Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has stated he'll finance a viable contender to take on Pritzker.
If Griffin adopts Irvin's cause, "he will have a massive money advantage, and there is a crowded field of very conservative Republican primary candidates and multiple downstaters who will split that voting bloc," noted former state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, a former GOP candidate for governor and former DuPage Republican chairman.
In the general election, Pritzker is a formidable opponent, but Irvin and the incumbent governor have seemed to have a cordial working relationship, appearing together last spring to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations, for example.
Meanwhile, the Kane County Democratic Party was quick to criticize Irvin in a statement issued Friday that expressed "their disappointment in the mayor." The party is "standing firmly behind" Pritzker," officials said, linking Irvin with Rauner in what might be a playbook for the election.
Additional suburban candidates include Palatine Township Highway Commissioner Aaron Del Mar, who is running as lieutenant governor with Gary Rabine of McHenry County, a Schaumburg business owner who is seeking to be the next governor.
McHenry County Board Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Schofield will team with gubernatorial hopeful and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Monroe County as a candidate for lieutenant governor.
Other contenders are state Sen. Darren Bailey of Louisville and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan of Petersburg.
Petitions in the primary started being circulated Thursday and the filing period is March 7-14.
• Daily Herald staff writer Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this story.