IL governor race: Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin announces run with Avery Bourne as running mate

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin officially launched his campaign for governor Monday, putting an end to the political drama.

According to a campaign website that also launched Monday, State Rep. Avery Bourne is his running mate. She was the youngest legislator to be sworn in to the Illinois General Assembly when she took the oath of office in 2015.

Irvin is now the fifth Republican to enter the race and is already coming under attack from both Republicans and Democrats.

Irvin launched his bid for governor with handshakes and hugs with supporters who attended Aurora's official celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But the newest Republican to enter the race declined to discuss his candidacy as he left the event.

"Today is about MLK," Irvin said, ignoring questions about his campaign. "There will be a lot information coming out later."

READ MORE: Gov. JB Pritzker announces reelection bid, will seek 2nd term

Irvin launched his campaign with a highly-produced video touting his background as a descendant of slaves, a U.S. Army veteran and a second-term mayor of Illinois' second-largest city. He is making crime and taxes two key issues of his campaign.

"I'm Richard Irvin, I'm running for Governor of Illinois and with your help we will take our state back," Irvin says at the end of the ad.

Governor JB Pritzker's campaign quickly responded, saying: "The GOP primary field continues to grow but one thing stays the same: the people of Illinois do not want a repeat of the Bruce Rauner years of disastrous mismanagement and policies that set our state back."

Irvin also is coming under fire from his GOP rivals who criticized him for pulling Democratic ballots in several recent elections.

Winning the June primary will require Republican support from downstate.

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"He has to convince diehard GOP voters that he is conservative enough to satisfy their concerns, but he also has to be looking for the general election and he has to be able to convince GOP voters that he can win in the fall," ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington said.

"The best part about the campaign, the primary this year is not in March. It's June 28," political analyst Thom Serafin said. "So he's got a lot of time to do what he needs to do to get done, and he got a good start based on that video I saw today."

Irvin is expected to get the financial backing of billionaire Ken Griffin, who has vowed he's "all in" to defeat fellow billionaire Pritzker, who recently pumped $90 million into his campaign coffers.

RELATED: Ken Griffin wants Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin to run against JB Pritzker for governor, sources say

In a statement Griffin praised Irvin, but made no financial commitment, saying in part: "I am excited that he has decided to join the race, and look forward to the opportunity to meet him and learn more about his ideas in the weeks ahead."

"He's getting into the race late, but it's not that late," Washington said.

"We've got almost six months ahead of campaigning. If he has a huge amount of money behind him, he can play catch up very quickly."

Irvin's entry into the race is seen as a signal from the GOP establishment that it does not believe the other four candidates are capable of defeating Pritzker. Now it's up to Irvin to make his case to voters.

FULL STATEMENT FROM KEN GRIFFIN:

Unlike the current Governor who was born into wealth and has demonstrated little urgency or progress in improving our State, Richard Irvin's life embodies the American Dream and a real commitment to making communities stronger. From humble beginnings, he put himself through college with the help of the GI bill and chose to enter public service to make a difference in the lives of others. As Mayor of Aurora, he has successfully delivered on the issues Illinoisans care most about - strengthening the education system, improving public safety, creating economic opportunities and governing with integrity. I am excited that he has decided to join the race, and look forward to the opportunity to meet him and learn more about his ideas in the weeks ahead.
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