SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Sen. Darren Bailey, an outspoken Republican from Eastern Illinois, announced his intent to run for governor in 2022 Monday night.
The Xenia native hosted a campaign event with supporters at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham.
Bailey, who represents the 55th district, called himself a farmer, a small business owner, and a "regular guy," who is leading a grass-roots movement to get the political elite out of Springfield.
If he becomes governor, Bailey said he would freeze spending, end tax increases, and aim for a zero-based budget ideal meaning every department would have make its case for every dollar it needed.
Bailey said the government just cannot continue to raise taxes.
"The cycle never ends," Bailey said. "Friends, we've been saying this in Springfield of a long time, Illinois does not have a revenue problem, Illinois has a spending problem and it's time we address it."
While only serving a limited time in the House before unanimously winning his Senate seat, Bailey gained statewide and national attention for defying Gov. JB Pritzker's executive orders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Bailey filed a lawsuit against the Pritzker administration in Clay County last spring.
He later became a popular speaker at "Reopen Illinois" hosted by people across the state who opposed Pritzker's response to the pandemic. Bailey gained significant support as the court battle moved from Clay County to the Illinois Supreme Court and federal level.
As lawmakers returned to Springfield for a special session in May, House leaders kicked Bailey out of the Bank of Springfield Center for refusing to wear a mask. Many Republicans against mask-wearing found a new political leader they wanted to follow. Some even started to chant "Governor Bailey" at public events and rallies.
Bailey joined two Republicans with gubernatorial campaigns already underway. Former Sen. Paul Schimpf announced his intent for the Republican ticket last week. Businessman Gary Rabine was the first person to announce a campaign against Pritzker, although the list of Republican candidates is expected to grow over the coming months.