Did You Receive Irvin’s Attack Mailer on Bailey?

Written by Fran Eaton 

Every political campaign’s dream is to get potential voters to glance at piece of mail they find in their mailboxes, then their hearts pound quicker if those voters stop and read the mailing cover. Then they hope the voter will open the piece and read what they want those voters to know – either good stuff about their candidate or bad stuff about their opponent.

And that’s all besides the great money the printer gets for doing the mailer, the piece designer gets for putting it together and the political consultants commonly get for, well, being campaign consultants.

That’s the background for a hit piece the Richard Irvin for Governor campaign just did on Republican gubernatorial primary candidate state Illinois State Senator Darren Bailey.

A month ago, Senator Bailey was leading the IL GOP primary with 30 percent of the voters in a six-way race – making him the prime target for Irvin, whose campaign raked in $20 million from Illinois’ richest man, Ken Griffin. Bailey’s campaign has the broadest support and conservative grassroots while Irvin has the most funding available.

For political observers, that puts the race between Bailey and Irvin.

And that’s likely the reason Irvin’s campaign sent the mailing that hit hundreds of thousands of downstate Republican mailboxes within the past couple of weeks.

We’re telling you the Bailey attack mailing came from Irvin’s campaign, because the mailer’s return address provides only a post office box number and the town from which it came – Irvin’s hometown, where he’s the mayor – Aurora, Illinois. Despite Illinois election law, the mailer does not identify who paid for the mailing. That’s “the printer’s fault,” Irvin told Chicago media.

The mailer will catch your eye if you’re a Trump fan: “BAILEY BREAKS WITH TRUMP,” it says, picturing Bailey between images of a smiling Joe Biden and Barack Obama. At the bottom, “Darren Bailey: I might have voted for Biden.”

Okay, that’s an eye grabber. What downstate Trump fan wants to hear that from their conservative pick in the upcoming June 28th IL GOP primary? Already Republicans don’t trust Illinois politicians. The mailer simply plays on that justified distrust.

So, they open the mailer and see these declarations from the unidentified sources: “Bailey voted Obama into office in 2008.” Then the repeat, “I might have voted for Biden.” And finally, that Bailey voted to raise Illinois property taxes by 81%.”

Then the mailer says “Reject Obama-Biden Republican Darren Bailey” with tiny little footnote references to quoted sources.

So, how does Darren Bailey respond to Irvin’s claims?

Bailey points to the fact that he “proudly voted and campaigned for President Trump in 2016 and 2020,” and is a lifelong conservative Republican “who has always supported the Republican nominee.” He served as a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2020. He has not then, nor ever, “broken with Trump.”

Bailey said he did participate in radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” in 2008 by pulling a Democrat ballot that year in the primary scheduled especially early by Illinois Democrats to push their favorite and first time presidential candidate Barack Obama above Hillary Clinton. It was Limbaugh’s misguided plan to weaken the Democrats’ candidates – a tactic, we now know, didn’t work.

Nevertheless, Bailey says at the time (14 years ago) he was focused on farming and family, not politics – which has dramatically changed as Illinois plunged further and further into a liberal abyss. Bailey’s campaign says “Darren has never supported a Democrat and proudly campaigned and voted for President Trump against Clinton and Biden.”

He also has consistently rejected tax hikes in his role as state representative and state senator. The tax hike vote the Irvin campaign says he supported was from an obscure vote during his days on a local school board – easily explained but used by the Irvin consultants to undermine trust in Bailey.

And, be reminded, the political consultants writing, designing and authorizing these Irvin mailers are the same ones that ran Bruce Rauner’s 2018 re-election campaign that lied to downstate conservative voters unfamiliar with former state representative Jeanne Ives that she was “Mike Madigan’s favorite Republican.” Which couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, she was the biggest thorn in Madigan’s side.

Instead, Bailey consistently takes the high road in response to the scurrilous accusations from the Irvin campaign.

“Darren Bailey is a man of faith, a farmer, and a businessman who owns a trucking company, an excavation company, and two Christian Schools. Darren is a lifelong Conservative Republican who has always supported the Republican nominee.”

That’s Bailey’s admirable response to the mailer.

Does Bailey have millions of campaign dollars to blow on lying attack mailers? No. And we’re sure he wouldn’t even if he had the cash on hand.

“Illinois Family Action’s board is getting very close to making an endorsement in the 2022 Illinois Republican Primary,” Executive Director David E. Smith said this week.

We don’t bet, but if we did, we think it’s likely not to be Richard Irvin that they pick to go against incumbent Governor J.B. Pritzker in November 2022.

Fran Eaton is a freelance writer living in DuPage County. She and her late husband Joe homeschooled their three children for 15 years, and she is now the proud grandmother of ten. Fran attends Village Bible Church in Naperville.