GOP gov hopefuls: ‘Historic’ overturn of Roe v. Wade signals ‘battle for life in the frontlines moves right here to Illinois’

Republican Jesse Sullivan declared, “What a beautiful day.” GOP front runner Darren Bailey called the Supreme Court ruling “historic and welcomed.” If either wins in November, he’d likely still face Democrats in Springfield determined to keep the state’s abortion laws and even try to expand them.

SHARE GOP gov hopefuls: ‘Historic’ overturn of Roe v. Wade signals ‘battle for life in the frontlines moves right here to Illinois’
Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey talks about the leak of the draft of the Supreme Court decision at a Chicago news conference in May.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey talks about the leak of the draft of the Supreme Court decision at a Chicago news conference in May.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times file

Republicans running for governor offered up prayers, thanks to former president Donald Trump and jabs at Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker — who has crowned himself “the most pro-choice governor in the entire nation.”

That was the celebratory GOP reaction Friday in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Former venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan responded with a Twitter video showing him holding his 5-month-old son Will, in which he declared with a smile, “What a beautiful day.”

“After decades of fighting to overturn Roe versus Wade, so many prayers around the nation, it’s finally here,” Sullivan says in the video. “Now, this battle for life in the frontlines moves right here to Illinois. We need a governor who will stand proudly for life.”

Republican front runner Darren Bailey called the Supreme Court decision “historic and welcomed.”

For nearly two months, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin had resisted reporters’ requests for comment on the leaked draft opinion that foreshadowed the ruling, calling it “irresponsible for us to hypothesize and speculate on what the outcome will be.”

Irvin would say only that he’s “pro-life” while railing against the state’s revocation of a parental notification abortion provision.

On Friday, Irvin offered a lukewarm response.

“As a pro-life Republican, I will continue to fight for every parent’s right to know if a minor child is having an abortion — a right J.B. Pritzker has outrageously taken away,” Irvin said in a written statement. “With Democratic majorities in the Illinois General Assembly, this Supreme Court ruling will have no effect on the law in our state.”

Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Richard Irvin in May.

Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Richard Irvin in May.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

It was the end to a pretty bad week for Irvin, whose main benefactor, billionaire hedge fund founder Ken Griffin, announced Thursday he’s leaving Chicago — and his gubernatorial candidate — for Miami.

Polls have for weeks shown Irvin trailing Bailey by double digits.

Even if a Republican can beat Pritzker in November, a GOP governor would likely have to face Democratic supermajorities in Springfield, legislators who will fight to keep the state’s abortion laws on the books and even try to expand them.

It’s the reason Irvin’s campaign didn’t feel like he had to weigh in on the controversial issue earlier — in addition to his challenge of trying to alienate neither conservatives he needs in the primary nor moderates he’s hoping to win over in November.

Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Republican primary voters supported tossing out Roe v. Wade, according to a Sun-Times/WBEZ Poll earlier this month.

But a poll conducted last year for abortion rights-supporting Personal PAC found that 73% of the state’s registered voters agreed abortion “should remain legal in Illinois as a private decision between a woman and her doctor, not politicians.”

Pritzker has framed the Supreme Court decision as further proof the state needs to reelect a Democratic governor who will fight for abortion rights.

He made that clear in May, after the leaked draft was made public.

“Hell no! In Illinois, we trust women,” he tweeted then. “We cannot let their most profound and personal rights be violated.”

The Chicago Democrat has been campaigning on that support for months.He called himself “the most pro-choice governor in the entire nation” at a Chicago news conference Friday.And the governor said he will call the General Assembly into special session in the coming weeks to “further enshrine” reproductive protections.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces he will call for a special legislative session to protect reproductive health rights after news of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces he will call for a special legislative session to protect reproductive health rights after news of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Illinois and Minnesota are the only Midwestern states in which abortion laws likely won’t be affected by the ruling. And abortion providers in Illinois will see a huge influx of women coming from states that have outlawed the procedure.

Planned Parenthood of St. Louis on Friday said it had ceased abortion care at the last remaining clinic in Missouri, one of 26 states poised to ban abortion completely. Missouri’s “trigger ban” ended abortion access except for life-threatening emergencies, while criminalizing doctors who provide abortion.

Throughout the primary campaign, all of the Republican candidates except Irvin stressed their anti-abortion stances in mailers and ads.

In April, Bailey, a state senator from Xenia, got the endorsements of anti-abortion groups Illinois Family Action, Illinois Federation for Right to Life and Illinois Citizens for Life. He vowed then he’d use the governor’s office as a bully pulpit to remove taxpayer-funded abortion and restore parental notification in the state.

“With communication to the people,” Bailey said when asked how’d he repeal any of the state’s abortion laws with Democratic supermajorities in the Legislature. “After all, we are in this position because I’ve been expelling truth, hope, the possibility of restoring them on the way.”

In a written statement Friday, Bailey said: “Unfortunately, billionaire JB Pritzker is an abortion extremist out of touch with the overwhelming majority of Illinoisans. He continues to push a radical agenda from taxpayer-funded abortion, late-term elective abortions and removing parental notification.”

State Sen. Darren Bailey in May.

State Sen. Darren Bailey speaks about the leak of the Supreme Court opinion during news conference in May.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine tweeted out his appreciation for Trump as he reacted to the news: “Thanks to President Trump for appointing conservative Justices that finally ended 50 years of abortion in the United States.”

And Hazel Crest attorney Max Solomon called himself “unapologetically and uncompromisingly prolife.”

“Today, our nation stood up for life — a turning point in our history,” Solomon said in an email. “May God bless the USA.”

Republican candidates for governor, clockwise from top left: Max Solomon, Jesse Sullivan, Gary Rabine and Paul Schimpf.

Republican candidates for governor, clockwise from top left: Max Solomon, Jesse Sullivan, Gary Rabine and Paul Schimpf.

Anthony Vazquez; Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times-file

Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf did not immediately react to the news.

The Democratic Governors’ Association, which boosted Bailey’s campaigns among GOP primary voters with ads calling him “too conservative,” on Friday dubbed the Republicans as “completely out-of-touch with Illinoisans across the state.”

“This devastating SCOTUS decision has left Democratic governors like Gov. Pritzker as the last line of defense to protect women’s access to safe, legal reproductive care,” DGA spokeswoman Yael Sheinfeld said. “Voters will remember that at the ballot box.”

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