Illinois’ governor’s election is reminiscent of abortion and crime debates in the US

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker warned that his Republican opponent is a far-right politician who would push back the state, while state Senator Darren Bailey urged voters to consider whether the Democratic incumbent’s first term is hers Life has improved as the two candidates met on Friday at an online forum.

Hosted by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors, the event focused primarily on public safety, economic and abortion rights issues that have dominated the campaign for months.

The Democrat is heavily favored in the race and spent millions attacking one of Bailey’s competitors in June’s GOP primary. Bailey, a senator from Xenia, dramatically raised his national profile in 2020 by becoming a top critic of Pritzker’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic — including refusing to wear a mask during legislative sessions.

The sharpest disagreements between the two candidates on Friday came over a criminal justice package that will partially do away with cash bail and allow judges to hold people accused of a variety of offenses pending trial.

The broad package, known as the SAFE-T Act, also focused on law enforcement accountability. But the bail changes were the source of widespread misinformation and allegations on the Illinois campaign trail this fall.

Bailey, who has called Chicago a “hell hole” and once supported a resolution aimed at making the city its own state, reiterated his call for it to be overturned or risk the rest of the state “experiencing the same chaos as it did what’s happening in the city of Chicago.” He also reiterated his support for scrapping the state’s gun licensing system, saying it doesn’t stop people from using guns illegally now.

Pritzker said he was willing to consider some changes to the criminal justice package but accused Bailey of lying about its impact as a campaign tactic.

Pritzker, a frequent critic of former President Donald Trump during the coronavirus pandemic, has repeatedly called Bailey an extremist in line with Trump. He suggested that the Republican would scrap some of Illinois’ most progressive family trees, including protecting abortion rights after the Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court.

Bailey brushed off a direct question about signing an abortion ban into law, arguing that Democrats’ hold on Illinois legislation is unlikely to change. Instead, he accused Pritzker of “fear mongering” on the issue.

“Nothing changes,” Bailey said, adding that if elected governor, his focus would be on crime, business and education.

Bailey rarely shied away from touting his support for Trump or his views on gun rights and abortion during the primary. But he softened his argument about replacing Pritzker as the general election approaches.

“People want their families and their friends and their businesses to be able to stay here and thrive in Illinois,” he said. “That does not happen. And it’s gotten a lot worse in the last four years.”

The newly strengthened financial situation of the state also dominated the 45-minute forum. Pritzker has touted an improvement in Treasury ratings since taking office and four years without the devastating fiscal stalemate that helped the Democrat defeat Republican Bruce Rauner four years ago. He warned that Bailey’s election could undo that progress.

“Illinois is finally moving in the right direction,” Pritzker said. “We have achieved so much together and we still have a lot to do.” Illinois’ governor’s election is reminiscent of abortion and crime debates in the US

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