EFFINGHAM, Ill. — For the past week, State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, has been teasing an “important announcement about the future of Illinois” on Monday night.
Bailey is expected to announce he’s running for Illinois governor in the 2022 election.
His kickoff event is scheduled Monday from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham.
Bailey has already announced a multi-day tour through downstate Illinois with events in Marion, Highland, Bloomington, Utica, Loves Park and Shorewood throughout this week.
“What Illinois has been enduring for many years simply doesn’t work, hasn’t been working and isn’t working and it’s time for something different,” said Bailey in a Friday morning Facebook video. “It’s time for some common-sense, hard-working people to be involved in office and leadership.”
Bailey is popular in his district, the Senate’s 55th. It includes the eastern half of Effingham County, all of Clay County and a large swath of east-central Illinois.
In 2020, he won election to the seat by more than 50 percentage points. In 2018, Bailey won his race for a state representative seat by a similar margin.
During a question-and-answer session at a recent town hall Bailey hosted in Effingham, a woman in the audience shouted the question, “Senator Bailey, when are you running for governor?”
When the senator smiled and didn’t immediately respond, the crowd gave him a standing ovation for encouragement. Once the applause died down, Bailey responded.
“That’s why you should sign up for these email blasts,” Bailey said. “There will be an important email blast coming up.”
Once Bailey announces his run for governor, he will join two other declared Republican candidates: Schaumburg-based businessman Gary Rabine and former State Sen. Paul Schimpf.
Bailey declined to be interviewed for this story and his representatives declined to discuss Monday’s announcement. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times have also reported that Bailey is likely to announce his intention to run for governor.
Bailey has served in state government for just over two years, being sworn in as a state representative in January 2019. In that time, he’s made a name for himself as a fierce opponent of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID mitigations.
Bailey sued Pritzker for purportedly overstepping his authority when issuing successive disaster proclamations in response to the pandemic through his emergency powers under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act. After a monthslong battle, the courts sided with Pritzker.
While serving as a state representative, Bailey was escorted from the House floor for refusing to wear a mask in May 2020, even after members of his own party told him to do so.
“The representative has shown a callous disregard for life, a callous disregard for people’s health,” Pritzker said during a daily COVID briefing at the time.
When he was running for state senate last fall, Bailey shared a sharp critique of the governor with the EDN.
“Our governor refuses to listen to the needs and concerns of the diversely different areas of Illinois. ... Illinois has existing plans in place that allow for county-by-county overwatch, but unfortunately, our governor does not desire to honor that,” he said.
As a legislator, Bailey has sponsored or co-sponsored 219 pieces of legislation, with 19 of those bills becoming law. Though he has sponsored a variety of legislation, frequent subjects of his legislation are reforming state and local government and education.
Some of the laws he has co-sponsored include laws introducing a requirement for casinos and hotels to adopt policies protecting workers against sexual assault, allowing school districts to offer hunting safety courses during the day or after school, and allowing counties to change the way county assessors and supervisors are selected by referendum.
Several times Bailey has introduced legislation as its chief sponsor that died before a vote was ever taken. These include multiple attempts to allow public schools to display the phrase “In God We Trust” on school buildings, requiring an ultrasound and waiting period for people seeking abortions, and several attempts at ethics reform and term limits for officers of the Illinois General Assembly.
Outside of his work in government, Bailey is a farmer and alongside his wife, Cindy, is co-founder of Full Armor Christian Academy, a private school offering preschool through 12th grade education in Louisville.
Free tickets for Bailey’s announcement on Monday can be reserved at www.eventbrite.com/e/bailey-for-illinois-effingham-tickets-141577260397