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Republican Bailey’s message to Chicago evolves from get lost to I’ll ‘make Chicago the great city that it should be’

Asked about his 2019 resolution calling on Chicago to break away from the rest of Illinois, Bailey said, “Many times when two people are in a relationship or there’s a marriage and someone’s not happy, someone finally says I’m not happy. To me, that’s what that resolution was. It was a warning shot.”

Then state Rep. Darren Bailey speaks at a re-open Illinois rally at Buckingham Fountain in May of 2020, about 15 months after sponsoring a House resolution calling for the city to secede from Illinois.
Then state Rep. Darren Bailey speaks at a re-open Illinois rally at Buckingham Fountain in May of 2020, about 15 months after sponsoring a House resolution calling for the city to secede from Illinois.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

SPRINGFIELD — Now that he’s running for governor, downstate Republican Darren Bailey no longer thinks Chicago should break away from the rest of the state.

The state senator from southern Illinois on Tuesday characterized his resolution calling for that two years ago as “a warning shot” to the city.

“I am going to fight to make Illinois stronger from the north to the south from the east to the west as a whole and to make Chicago the great city that it should be,” Bailey said Tuesday. “But unfortunately, it’s being held hostage with liberal terrible ideas.”

It’s the first time since the farmer from downstate Xenia launched his gubernatorial campaign that he discussed the resolution he sponsored in 2019 with seven other downstate Republicans. The resolution called for Chicago to become the 51st state, because “the majority of residents in downstate Illinois disagree with City of Chicago residents on key issues such as gun ownership, abortion, immigration, and other policy issues.”

Asked about the resolution on Tuesday, Bailey said, “Many times when two people are in a relationship or there’s a marriage and someone’s not happy, someone finally says I’m not happy. To me, that’s what that resolution was. It was a warning shot.”

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, fourth from right, stands with supporters at this news conference at the State Capitol on Tuesday.
State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, fourth from right, stands with supporters at this news conference at the State Capitol on Tuesday.
Andrew Sullender/Chicago Sun-Times

Calling it “an old resolution,” Bailey contended its purpose was not to kick Chicago out of Illinois but to give voice to those outside of the city who “are not happy and want to be heard.”

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, reintroduced the measure in February of this year with no House co-sponsors. Bailey has not introduced similar legislation in the Senate since being elected to that chamber last year.

At his news conference outside the state Capitol on Tuesday, Bailey did not back away from remarks he made last week condemning U.S. Republican Reps. Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger for their support of a bipartisan commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a Facebook live video last Friday, Bailey called the commission “nonsense,” saying Davis was “now joining Kinzinger in his antics.” Kinzinger of Channahon was one of ten U.S. House Republicans to vote to impeach President Trump, while Davis of Taylorville voted against impeachment.

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, second from right, speaks at a news conference in Springfield on Tuesday, as state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, third from right, and state Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, right, listen.
State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, second from right, speaks at a news conference in Springfield on Tuesday, as state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, third from right, and state Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, right, listen.
Andrew Sullender/Chicago Sun-/Times

On Tuesday, Bailey said a commission was unnecessary because “that’s being taken care of in the courts of law.”

“For any lawmaker to sit here and go backwards and try to be concerned about this is wrong when we have the problems that we have in the state of Illinois,” Bailey said of Davis and Kinzinger.

In March, the Illinois House of Representatives condemned Bailey ally state Rep. Chris Miller for his alleged incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

During a Facebook live broadcast of a rally of President Donald Trump supporters that day outside the U.S. Capitol, Miller said they were all “engaged in a great cultural war to see which worldview will survive. Whether we will remain a free people under free market capitalism or whether they will put us under the tyranny of socialism and communism and dangerous Democrat terrorists.”

In February, Miller endorsed Bailey for governor, giving the opening prayer at Bailey’s campaign kick-off in downstate Effingham, telling the crowd “if Darren Bailey is governor of Illinois, then there is a God in Heaven.”

Miller was also a co-sponsor of the resolution to make Chicago its own state.