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Who will face off against Gov. JB Pritzker in November? GOP race coming to a close

Race for Republican nomination for Illinois governor drawing to a close
Race for Republican nomination for Illinois governor drawing to a close 02:49

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The race to determine which Republican will face off against Gov. JB Pritzker in the fall is heading into its final hours, as voters in Illinois head to the polls to cast their ballots on Tuesday.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin had been considered the frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination for governor for months, thanks to a $50 million infusion of campaign cash from billionaire Ken Griffin, until recent weeks, when polls showed Illinois state Sen. Darren Bailey, of Xenia, taking a double-digit lead in the race.

Irvin voted Tuesday morning at a Methodist church in Aurora. He said only a few words, but stayed on message, billing himself as the only Republican in the race who can defeaat Gov. JB Pritzker in the general election in November.

"Get out and vote, and make sure you have a voice. Make sure you vote for the person that can actually beat JB Pritzker, and that's me and the Irvin-Bourne team. A vote for Darren Bailey is a vote to re-elect JB Pritzker," he said.

Irvin stayed on message for most of the campaign, avoiding questions from reporters, and declining most interviews until recently, after polls showed him falling behind Bailey.

Bailey hopes to deliver a victory speech Tuesday night at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham, about 30 miles from his family farm in Xenia, and he might have that chance, as recent polls have shown him with a double-digit lead.

After the state senator voted Tuesday morning, he drove to a steakhouse in Effingham and shook hands with customers, encouraging them to vote if they hadn't already.

Bailey is coming off an endorsement from former President Donald Trump over the weekend. The question is whether voters in a state where Trump lost decisively in both 2016 and 2020 will see a conservative like Bailey as a viable candidate.

"Things aren't right. We need something different, and I look forward to that day of earning everyone's trust in Chicago, and, Cook County and beyond; to bring unity first of all to our party, which is going to start tonight, and then to bring unity to the entire state," Bailey said.

Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, who has pulled ahead of Irvin to take second place in the GOP race in some recent polls, made a stop to chat with campaign workers in Arlington Heights on Tuesday, offering a few hugs and handshakes.

Whoever wins Tuesday night will face off against Gov. JB Pritzker in November, who is facing only a nominal challenge from Beverly Miles, whose campaign has been all but invisible, and has raised less than $20,000 for her campaign, compared to the massive $90 million Pritzker gave to his own campaign earlier this year.

Pritzker spent this election day making a number of campaign stops across Chicago, including at a school in Kenwood, where he and Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton thanked poll workers, and posed for pictures with voters.

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