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Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin Joins Republican Primary For Illinois Governor

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is running for governor, announcing Monday he is entering the Republican primary.

Irvin, the first Black mayor of Aurora, announced his campaign on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

He joins at least four other Republicans in the GOP primary for governor: Illinois State Sen. Darren Bailey, former state senator Paul Schimpf, and businessmen Gary Rabine and Jesse Sullivan.

Illinois State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) is running for lieutenant governor as Irvin's running mate.

According to published reports, Irvin's campaign might get significant financial backing from billionaire Ken Griffin, who is planning to spend millions of dollars on the race for governor in an effort to oust Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker.

An Army veteran and former prosecutor, Irvin has been mayor of Aurora since 2017.

In announcing his campaign, Irvin attacked the "defund the police" movement, which seeks to move resources away from police department and for other community needs, saying he's committed to providing more money for police.

"I've seen it up close. Defund the police is dumb, dangerous and it costs lives. And I believe that all lives matter. Every family should be safe. Running our second-largest city, crime's come down because the police budget has gone up. I hired more cops each year. We've recruited new companies, turned old properties into economic engines. And we've controlled spending, balanced budgets, so residents got property tax relief. My city is now safer, stronger and full of opportunity. I want that for Illinois," Irvin said in his campaign video.

He also accused Gov. Pritzker of failing Illinois.

"Crime is out of control. So is corruption. Negligence and incompetence have destroyed our finances, so taxes go up. People move out, because there's nothing you can do about it, but that's not true. I know it's not," Irvin said.

However, the Democratic Governor's Association has accused Irvin of "attempting a complete 180," releasing a video with clips of Irvin praising Pritzker, calling him "a great leader who has guided our state with professionalism and compassion" during the pandemic, and praising him for "making Black and Brown communities a priority for health care equity."

Irvin's campaign announcement also drew immediate criticism from his Republican opponents, who pointed out he's voted in Democratic primary elections in the past.

Aurora's municipal elections are non-partisan, so he has not run with an official party designation, but has been previously elected as a Republican precinct committeeman, and has been backed in previous elections by prominent Republican elected officials.

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