SPRINGFIELD — In his two years as a state representative, Republican Darren Bailey has been kicked out of a House session for not wearing a mask, sued Gov. J.B. Pritzker over the Democratic governor’s handling of COVID-19 and been wheeled out of another session on a gurney after a medical emergency.
On Tuesday he closed out his House tenure with a rare bipartisan round of applause.
The southern Illinois lightning rod returned to the Bank of Springfield Center on Tuesday after collapsing Sunday during House proceedings, offering a combination return and farewell speech.
It was the final full day of Bailey’s House term. He is poised to be sworn into the state Senate on Wednesday.
In his short speech, the Xenia Republican thanked his colleagues for their support while he recuperated.
“I want to say thank you — thank you for your prayers, thank you for your thoughts, thank you for your concerns,” Bailey said at the Bank of Springfield Center, where House members are meeting for their socially distanced lame duck session.
“Abraham Lincoln quoted the Bible once, and he said ‘a nation divided against itself cannot stand,’ and friends … we face some challenging times here in Illinois, but I truly believe that, as the Heartland state, if we can get our act together sometime soon we can bring this nation together because we’ve got the ingredients right here in this room to do that and I felt that on Sunday and I thank you very, very much, God bless you all.”
As his fellow legislators applauded, Bailey shared a fist bump with a colleague.
Bailey, 54, was still in the hospital Monday, though his tests came back clear Monday afternoon, according to a statement from Bailey’s office.
After Bailey’s collapse, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said Sunday Bailey has been experiencing some “gastrointestinal issues” and hadn’t eaten, “which led to him passing out on the floor” and hitting his head.
Despite their disagreements on issues, Durkin wished him well and urged other legislators to do the same.
“We have our disagreements on many issues, but at the end of the day we are a family, and let’s remember that,” Durkin said. “We wish well to everyone. This is a time in which we have to consider and we have to put the priority of one’s health above anything as we do for our constituents.”
Bailey was the first to sue Pritzker over his stay-at-home order. The Republican lawmaker was escorted from a House session in May after refusing to wear a face covering during the first House sessions held early in the pandemic.
The southern Illinois legislator was elected to the state Senate in November, beating Democrat Cynthia Ann Given, nearly 77% to 23%.