'Get back home': Gov. Pritzker criticized by GOP rival over recent trips raising national profile

Craig Wall Image
ByCraig Wall via WLS logo
Friday, July 15, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

It is his Saturday trip to Florida to be the keynote speaker for that state's Democratic Party fundraiser that has sparked criticism from his GOP rival.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor JB Pritzker continues to raise his national profile, and with it, speculation about a presidential run in 2024.

However, it's also fueling criticism from his Republican rival Darren Bailey.

For the second time in a month, Gov. Pritzker is traveling out of state to be a keynote speaker at a Democratic gathering. This time in Florida, the backyard of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who is also considered a potential presidential contender.

Pritzker was also in Washington this week for a White House gun safety ceremony and is now in Maine for a Democratic Governor's Convention.

It is his Saturday trip to Florida to be the keynote speaker for that state's Democratic Party fundraiser, with tickets ranging between $300 and $1,000 each, that has sparked criticism from his GOP rival.

"I've got a message to Governor Pritzker: Get back home. Let's work on surging police support in Chicago, and let's slash your gas tax and stop campaigning for president," said State Senator Darren Bailey, (R) Candidate for Governor.

"Florida is in dire need of a pro-choice, Democratic governor, and Governor Pritzker is proud to support the Florida Democratic Party in their efforts to flip the state blue," said Natalie Edelstein, JB for Governor Communications Director, in defense of Pritzker's trip.

"He is a go-to potential candidate in the Democratic Party right now. People want to hear from him, people want to see him [and] they see him as a new voice. He's also trying to position himself to be perceived that way," said ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington. "He's trying to send a strong message that he's ready to be perceived as a national player."

Pritzker has repeatedly said that his focus is on being governor.

However, Washington expects his speech Saturday will be watched very closely.

"He's gonna have a lot to say about abortion; he's gonna have a lot to say about gun control; he's going to have a lot to say about a lot of the issues that Democrats are really pushing for the fall elections. He wants to position himself as being a voice going into the midterm elections," Washington said.

Bailey is also under fire again from the Democratic Governors Association, which was accused of meddling in the GOP Primary to prop up Bailey. The association has now launched a new digital ad against him. The new ad shows video of Bailey at several shooting ranges and various clips of him supporting gun rights, including one where he tells supporters "I will never give up my AR-15 or any other gun."

The ad comes on the heels of the mass shooting in Highland Park, where the gunman used an assault-style rifle similar to an AR-15.

RELATED: Darren Bailey, Highland Park: Gov nominee apologizes after saying 'let's move on' after shooting

Bailey has not softened his stance on gun ownership.

"Illinois has some of the most extreme and regulated gun laws on the books, and I think we discovered very quickly that they're not being followed by what took place in Highland Park," Bailey said.

Washington said it's clear the DGA wants to create as many negative impressions of Bailey as it can with that ad, especially with gun control likely to remain an issue in this campaign.