It's official: Irvin jumps into GOP primary for governor with Avery Bourne as running mate

By Steven Spearie

Touting himself as a tough on crime prosecutor, a decorated combat veteran, and a great-grandson of a slave, Richard Irvin officially launched his bid to be the Republican nominee for Illinois governor on Monday.

The mayor of Aurora will run with 95th State Rep. Avery Bourne of Morrisonville as lieutenant governor.

Irvin, 51, jumps into a race that already features State Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia and former State Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, and businessmen Gary Rabine of Woodstock and Petersburg native and equity investor Jesse Sullivan.

Irvin's campaign has been linked to hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who has promised to back a candidate to beat Gov. JB Pritzker in the general election.

The founder of Citadel financial group Griffin spent just over $53.7 million in the 2020 campaign against a proposed constitutional amendment backed by Pritzker to allow the state to implement a graduated income tax.

Irvin was elected the first Black mayor of Aurora, Illinois’ second-largest city, in 2017 and was reelected in 2021.

If Irvin emerges from the June 28 primary, he would be the first Black gubernatorial nominee from either major party in the state's history.

Bourne has been in the Illinois General Assembly since 2015 when she took Wayne Rosenthal's 95th district seat after Rosenthal was named to the top spot of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Bourne then won reelection in 2016.

Bourne lives in the newly drawn 108th district, which includes the western and southern parts of Sangamon County, as well as part of Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin and Madison counties.

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Many in the Illinois GOP consider the conservative Bourne a rising star in the party. She appeared with Irvin in a three-minute launch video Monday.

Bourne did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Don Tracy, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said Irvin is joining an already robust primary and there is chatter that field could still grow.

"It's going to be a very competitive primary and I think we're going to come out with a really good nominee to take on (Gov.) JB Pritzker," Tracy said.

Illinois State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, asks questions of Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, during an Illinois House of Representatives Redistricting Committee meeting at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, August 31, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

Bourne, 29, is on the GOP state central committee "and I think she'll be a great candidate," Tracy said. "It's a very good field."

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There are other candidates who have said they're going to run, Tracy said, "but until we have petitions being circulated, you really don't know."

In his launch video, Irvin said "(former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael) Madigan and his ilk, Gov. Pritzker, they've done so much damage."

Irvin said he wanted Illinois to be free of "oppressive taxes and regulations." De-funding the police "is dumb, dangerous and it costs lives," said the former prosecutor.

The Democratic Party of Illinois pounced on the announcement quickly, tying Irvin to Griffin as well as former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, whom Pritzker beat in 2018.

“Illinoisans will not be fooled by the Rauner Reboot slate and they will not stand idly by while Ken Griffin and Bruce Rauner try to drag our state backwards with their anti-working family agenda," said Abby Witt, executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois in a statement. "Simply put, Illinois voters will not tolerate a slate of candidates whose only goal is to return us to the Rauner years of budget impasses, credit downgrades, draconian service cuts and governmental crisis.”

Aurora Mayor and GOP candidate for Illinois governor Richard Irvin

Bailey, in a statement, said the GOP nominee should be "a Republican, not someone who has made a career being a pro-abortion, anti-gun Democrat that praises Pritzker and doesn't share our principles, but we welcome him to the GOP and his tax-raising ticket to the race."

Tracy, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast in Springfield, encouraged all GOP candidates to heed the 11th Commandment.

"Thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican. It's going to be tough in a competitive primary, but as state party chair, it's my job to remind people of that and I will continue to do so," he said.


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