Irvin makes stop in Quincy as he tries to take over wide-open race for Republican candidate for governor

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QUINCY — The primary elections in Illinois are more than a month away, and a recent poll shows more than a third of likely Republican voters who responded haven’t made a choice for who their candidate as governor.

That is why Aurora mayor Richard Irvin was in Quincy Friday.

Irvin met with about 30 people at Sprout’s Inn during the lunch hour during his second of four stops as part of his #TakeItBack campaign tour. He was in Milan Friday morning, and he left Quincy to visit Marion and Urbana later in the day.

The poll, conducted May 6-8 by WGN-TV, The Hill and Emerson College, showed 36.9 percent of the respondents were undecided about which Republican they would support to replace JB Pritzker in the statehouse.

Irvin, a former prosecutor in Kane County, received the most votes at 24.1 percent, followed by state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, at 19.8 percent. Four other candidates received less than 8 percent of the vote.

“We’ve got 40 days left before the primary election on June 28. What we have to do is exactly what we’re doing now,” Irvin said. “We’re here in Quincy, Illinois, and Adams County, and we’ve got 13 other counties that we’re going to go to on a three-day tour that we’re doing for a total of 16 different counties throughout the state.

“We’re going to spend our time reaching out and getting out to the people and spreading our message, talking about the need to have a governor who’s going to be tough on crime and criminals. That happens to be my record. We’re going to talk about a governor who’s going to reduce taxes and not raise them. We’re going to talk about a governor who’s going to support our men and women who wear that (law enforcement) badge and try to keep us safe every day. We’re going to talk about a governor who’s going to give the voice back to parents in schools and education.

“We want to make the state better, take it to the next level and take the state back from JB Pritzker and give it back to the rightful owners, the residents of the state.”

His running mate, State Rep. Avery Bourne, and Republican candidates for Secretary of State (John Milhiser), treasurer (Tom Demmer), attorney general (Steve Kim) and comptroller (Shannon Teresi) joined Irvin.

Jeff Mays, director of administrative services for Quincy who also served five terms in the Illinois House, introduced Irvin.

“We’re proud to kind of call Quincy home and Illinois home, although we do need to change some things,” he said. “I think you’re the change agent that we’re looking for. It’s been an extremely difficult time, these last couple of years, especially with the president and the Congress going the way they’ve gone on their track. Gas prices here, as you’ve seen, are extraordinarily out of line. 

“We need to have somebody in (Springfield) who can turn this state around, so we are very proud to have you guys here. We want you to keep coming back.”

A Chicago Tribune report on Wednesday detailed how he arrived at the scene of an arrest last year by Aurora police during which his then-girlfriend, Laura Ayala-Clarke, was accused of hitting a security guard at a marijuana store. A police officer overheard Irwin say the charges against Ayala-Clarke “would be taken care of,” according to a police report of the incident.

Irvin disputed the characterization of his comments in the police report and that it might have implied he used his influence as mayor to affect the charges against Ayala-Clarke. He was asked how his belief that the officer’s report was inaccurate meshed with the support he has received from the Chicago Police Department, Illinois Troopers Lodge 41 as well as 20 county sheriffs around the state.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with that particular incident, which is why we thought it was necessary to release the full police report to the media with no redactions at all to make sure we were transparent about the incident,” Irvin said. “All I did in that particular case was give a friend a ride in need. That’s not my story to tell.”

Jim Durkin, Republican leader in the Illinois House, accompanied Irvin on the trip. He said he will try to repeal House Bill 3653, which brought sweeping criminal justice and police reforms, including the end of cash bail, to Illinois if Irvin is elected.

“The last week was one of the most violent weeks in the city of Chicago, not only at Millennium Park (where a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed) last weekend but just last night, there were eight shootings at a McDonald’s and two people were killed,” Durkin said. “In the last two years, the Chicago Police Department has lost 1,700 police officers, and they have only replaced them with 200. That is because JB Pritzker and the House and Senate Democrats have run police out of the jobs in Chicago and also out of the state of Illinois. 

“When (Irvin) gets elected and I take over the majority (of the House), we’re going to make sure that men and women who wear the badge and also victims of crime are going to be held to the highest, and we will not turn our backs on them.”

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