Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin enters GOP primary race for governor
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin jumped into a crowded Republican primary for governor Monday, asserting he is the best pick to take on Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the general election.
"I grew up in Section 8 public housing in Aurora; right now I serve as mayor," Irvin said in a video. "My granddad taught me to believe in myself and do the best I could at whatever I could. I enlisted in the Army and served in Desert Storm, where I developed the discipline it takes to complete a mission."
Irvin also spoke of his mother, a single mom, and great-grandfather Richard Baxter Irvin, a freed slave who moved to Illinois and became a mason.
"He built a legacy I stand on today," said Irvin, an attorney and former prosecutor. "I share his dream of what Illinois could be."
As a two-term mayor, Irvin said he has hired more police to bring crime down, reduced property taxes and promoted redevelopment.
"My city is safer, strong and full of opportunity. I want that for Illinois," he noted in the video that focused on Pritzker, not his primary opponents.
Downstate Rep. Avery Bourne is Irvin's choice to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with him. Bourne comes from a farming family and serves on the House appropriations and education committees. The 29-year-old from Morrisonville represents the state's 95th District.
"We will fight to restore parents' rights and encourage local control," Bourne said in a statement. "We believe all residents and communities of Illinois should have a seat at the table."
One issue likely to come up in the primary is that Irvin pulled Democratic ballots in the 2014, 2016 and 2020 election primaries and in the 2017 and 2021 consolidated election primaries.
He picked a Republican ballot in the 2018 primary that former Gov. Bruce Rauner won.
"I welcome Mayor Irvin to the race and I look forward to reviewing his conservative credentials and comparing and contrasting his vision for Illinois with ours," said Palatine Township Highway Commissioner Aaron Del Mar, who is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with governor candidate and businessman Gary Rabine of McHenry.
Del Mar called it "strategic" that Irvin's campaign announcement came in a video and he was not available for questions. "I think there's a lot about Mr. Irvin that Republican voters want to know," Del Mar said.
A third ticket with suburban ties teams McHenry County Board Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Schofield as a lieutenant governor candidate with gubernatorial hopeful and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Monroe County.
Republican State Central Committee member Bob Grogan of Downers Grove thinks Irvin "is a top-tier candidate. But let's see how everybody campaigns. Until I see Darren Bailey in front of a crowd in Chicago or Richard Irvin in front of a crowd in Xenia," it's difficult to predict the winner.
"I think all of our candidates are preferable to Pritzker," Grogan added.
In picking Bourne, Irvin "obviously passed a big hurdle," said Grogan. "Avery is smart and articulate and hardworking."
Meanwhile, the Kane County Democrats jumped into the fray, tying Irvin to billionaire and Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who has said he would fund the leading GOP candidate, and to former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"Richard Irvin is the latest pawn in Ken Griffin's game to bring Illinois back to the Rauner era," Kane Democratic Chairman Mark Guethle said. "Ken Griffin is the guy who brought us the disastrous Rauner administration."
If he wins on June 28, Irvin would be the first Black candidate to win a gubernatorial nomination in Illinois.