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STATEHOUSE

Bailey, Pritzker present in different ways on social media

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Pritzker and Bailey

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, left, and state Rep. Darren Bailey will face off in the Illinois governor's race this November.

They typically begin with the line "good morning friends, Illinois State Senator — your next governor — Darren Bailey coming to you from... [insert place]."

Facebook Live videos have been been integral part of Bailey's communications strategy during and even before his run for governor, allowing him to speak directly with his supporters.

It's certainly a change of pace from the slick television ads cut by his campaign, those of his Republican primary opponents earlier this year and, now, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker's team. 

Videos this week included one with Rev. Corey Brooks of Project H.O.O.D. on Chicago's South Side as well as one with Bailey and his wife, Cindy, marking their 36th wedding anniversary. 

These folksy direct-to-camera messages often end with Bailey reciting lines from the Bible and a closing prayer.

“Our campaign is a true grassroots campaign," said Bailey spokesman Joe DeBose. "Darren uses social media to talk directly to voters about the issues that matter — from rising crime to out-of-control prices. His Facebook live videos gets thousands of views from hardworking folks all across the state. These are not paid campaign supporters but regular people who are sick and tired of what JB Pritzker is doing to our state.”

Though they have helped endear Bailey to thousands of followers on social media, they have also made for significant fodder for political opposition researchers, who have assuredly scoured through to find controversial statements made by the gubernatorial candidate, a farmer first elected to the General Assembly in 2018.

One such instance popped up this week, when a 2017 video of Bailey contrasting abortion with the Holocaust came to light. 

“I believe that abortion is one of the greatest atrocities of our day and I believe it’s one of the greatest atrocities probably forever,” Bailey said. “The attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life that has been lost with abortion since its legalization.”

The remark has been met with widespread condemnation from Jewish leaders, Democrats and even some Republicans. 

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Bailey walked back his comments, calling the Holocaust "a human tragedy without parallel" and in "no way was I attempting to diminish the atrocities of the Holocaust and its stain on history."

Given the candid nature of Bailey's messages, it would not be surprising if more are flagged for controversial statements. 

But regardless, much in the way that former President Donald Trump did, Bailey has harnessed social media to get his message out to his audience, which includes more than 112,000 followers on Facebook, nearly 12,000 on Twitter and nearly 35,000 in TikTok

This loyal following was among the factors that helped him win the Republican primary in June. 

Still, Pritzker largely has Bailey beat on social media, counting more than 205,000 followers on his campaign's Facebook page and more than 127,000 followers on Twitter. And that's not even counting his official government accounts.

Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Natalie Edelstein said that the campaign has employed a robust "digital first" approach that tailors advertisements to the social media sites they are running on, so Facebook ads look different than one running on YouTube, for example.

Other examples include short, 10-second digital ads that run in vertical form on Snapchat and Instagram. 

According to the Pritzker campaign, there has been a 100% increase in engagement on their Facebook page in the past 90 days. Pritzker's Twitter followers have increased by 20% since last year. 

One area Bailey has Pritzker beat in is TikTok, where the governor's campaign account has just 636 followers. 

But even then, organic interest in Pritzker has partially made up for that with some unconventional outside allies. 

"Pritzker Memes," a TikTok account with humorous content featuring the governor, debuted in December 2021 and now has more than 20,000 followers.

And as speculation over a future presidential run has grown over the summer, Pritzker has won some new if unexpected fans on Twitter. 

The handle "Socialists for Pritzker" made its debut in June and now has more than 12,000 followers. Other handles, such as "Nomadic Warriors for Pritzker," "Frat Bros for Pritzker" and "Capitalists for Pritzker," have since popped up. 

It is all organic — the Pritzker campaign confirms the accounts are not affiliated with the campaign nor do campaign staff know the anonymous folks behind the accounts. 

Attempts to reach the folks behind the "Pritzker Memes" TikTok and "Socialists for Pritzker" Twitter were unsuccessful.

But, a late June tweet from "Socialists for Pritzker" lays out their thinking.

"To drop the bit for a minute: people like JB because he was a Democrat who ran on things that were very popular amongst Democrats, and then he did basically all of those things in office," the tweet states. "Somehow, that is rare. He delivers for the base in a way we expect from red state (governors)."

Pritzker has repeatedly said he is focusing on his race for reelection.

But, if the billionaire businessman-turned-politician ever runs for president, he at the very least has an army of socialists and nomadic warriors lining up behind him. Who would have thought? 

Sales tax holiday starts Friday

Illinois’ 10-day sales tax holiday on clothing and school supplies begins on Friday.

Through August 14, the state’s sales tax on qualified items drops from 6.25% to 1.25%. It is among a menu of election year tax-relief items state lawmakers approved earlier this year to help ease the burden of rising inflation.

In addition to most typical school supplies, clothing items and footwear under $125 are included in the tax holiday. A full list of eligible items can be found on the Illinois Department of Revenue's website.

‘ERIC’ wins Missouri Senate primary

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt easily won his state’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, a day after former President Trump endorsed “ERIC.”

“I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds,” Trump wrote on his Truth social media platform. “I am therefore proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

The joke here is that there were three candidates named Eric in the race — Schmidt, former Gov. Eric Greitens and Eric McElroy. So why bring this up in an Illinois-centric political column?

Well, Greitens crossed the border to Illinois in late June to attend Trump’s rally near Quincy, where the former president touted his support for Rep. Mary Miller, R-Oakland, and endorsed state Sen. Darren Bailey in the Republican primary for governor.

Greitens, who has been accused of domestic violence by his ex-wife, was simply a member of the crowd that day.


Contact Brenden Moore at 217-421-7984. Follow him on Twitter: @brendenmoore13

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