CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new poll shows a potentially major shakeup in the Republican race for Illinois governor as downstate State Senator Darren Bailey takes a big lead over Richard Irvin.
The Aurora mayor had been seen as the front runner over the past few months, but it looks like attacks by his rivals may be changing the tide.
The poll conducted by the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ shows Bailey with a commanding double-digit lead over Irvin and the rest of the field. But with two and half weeks left until the primary, there are plenty of undecideds that could sway the race.
The poll is a reflection of messaging and money being spent against Richard Irvin, not just by his opponents, but by the Democratic Governors Association supported by JB Pritzker and other groups. Irvin is now trying to regroup with time running out.
Mayor Richard Irvin was in Aurora Friday for a ceremony to raise the Pride flag, but the Republican candidate for governor is not ready to wave the white flag in the primary election despite a poll that suggests the one-time frontrunner has fallen far behind his chief rival Darren Bailey.
"Oh my gosh, there's two and a half weeks left in the campaign," Irvin said. "That's a lifetime in politics."
The Sun-Times/WBEZ poll shows Bailey with a commanding, 15 point lead over Irvin, with 27% of likely Republican voters still undecided.
"It's exciting to see it when it's public," Bailey said, "But I want to tell you the momentum behind this movement, it's real."
The poll was taken less than a week after the ABC7 debate where Irvin's rivals fired repeated salvos at him.
The survey surprisingly showed Bailey also leading in the collar counties where Irvin was counting on significant support, a suggestion that his campaign, despite $50 million in support from billionaire Ken Griffin, could be in deep trouble.
"He's gonna have to pivot, but a state-wide campaign is like a battleship," ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington said. "It's very difficult to turn it around, especially in the waning days."
Irvin's campaign is now reassessing its strategy, which recently abandoned running TV ads downstate. At a campaign event in Bloomington, Irvin blamed his slide in the polls on negative TV ads by Governor JB Pritzker and the Democratic Governor's Association.
Irvin's campaign said while it has spent more than $15 million on ads in the past six weeks, Irvin's opponents, including dark money groups, have spent double that attacking him.
"A vote for Darren Bailey is a vote for JB Pritzker," Irvin said in a message to Republicans, claiming Pritzker would fare better against Bailey than him in the general election.
Bailey was asked if he thinks Irvin is running scared at this point in the race.
"He's been running scared for a long time," Bailey said. "This man, he should be scared,"
Irvin's strategy in the waning weeks includes a blitz of 30,000 door knocks and 200,000 calls and texts. On Sunday, Bailey will launch a two-week tour of all 102 Illinois counties.