Illinois Republicans feel new momentum following Virginia election; Democrats say they’ll keep state blue in 2022
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (GRAY TV) - Tuesday’s election results in Virginia and New Jersey have some Illinois Republicans hoping to turn this traditionally blue state red.
A GOP newcomer won the gubernatorial race in Virginia, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy nearly lost his seat to a Republican. Some pundits see that as a sign of a national Republican resurgence.
Illinois GOP Chairman Don Tracy says Republicans are waking up and taking a stand against things happening around them.
“They’re getting off the sidelines either because they’re upset about a school lockdown or a strict lockdown of their business. Or they’re upset with a mask or vaccine mandate,” Tracy said.
Illinois’ GOP gubernatorial candidates have taken to social media over the past two days celebrating Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia.
Delivering results during the pandemic
Democrats also saw major victories Tuesday, though.
Murphy became the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977. Democrats also had historic mayoral wins for minority representation with Michelle Wu, an Asian-American woman, in Boston and Justin Bibb, a Black man, in Cleveland.
Jake Lewis is the new deputy director of the Democratic Party of Illinois. He finds those results promising for Illinois.
“If you look ahead to 2022, Democrats in Illinois and around the country have been doing the work to deliver the kind of results that people really want to see in this state,” Lewis said.
He said that includes the pandemic response, growing jobs, addressing climate change, providing affordable health care, and protecting a woman’s right to choose. Lewis said Democrats are already talking with voters about the importance of next year’s election and focusing on delivering results for Illinois families.
But Tracy said many of the priorities pushed by Democrats have led people to consider the GOP instead.
“And it’s not just independents,” Tracy said. “A lot of it’s some Democrats moving our way, particularly in the fire and police communities.”
Will Republicans make a comeback in Illinois?
Lewis said Democrats are energized and ready to keep Illinois blue in 2022. He also said the GOP should stop “petty attacks” and figure out their priorities.
“There seems to be a lot of infighting and division,” Lewis said. “And there don’t seem to be any real substantive solutions to any of the challenges that are really facing the people of this state.”
Tracy wishes the 2022 election was this month instead of next year, but he admits the GOP still has a lot to tackle before people vote in Illinois.
Although most downstate voters already lean to the right, Tracy is excited to see more people in Chicago and the suburbs becoming interested in the Republican party.
“They don’t like strict lockdowns and universal mandates,” Tracy said. “They don’t like the anti-police movement. You know, they don’t like what happened in Afghanistan, they don’t like having an open border.”
Lewis said it’s easy to understand why people are frustrated with all levels of government right now. Still, he said there are a lot of good things happening in the country.
“Folks want to see us move past the pandemic,” Lewis said. “But the most important thing is that we keep people safe and end this as soon as we can. We’re supporting the economy so folks have good-paying jobs. That’s what Democrats are focused on. That’s true at the local level. It’s true at the state level, and it’s true federally.”
The 2022 primary is June 28. The general election will take place on November 8.
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