Bailey is a Southern Illinois farmer whose run for governor was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and Bost is a five-term Congressman and veteran of the United States Marine Corps, also endorsed by Trump. The former president called Bost an « outstanding representative » for the 12th District.
This is the first real challenge for Bost, whose last primary challenge was in 2018. Bost has consistently won his district by double digits against the Democrats, including in 2022 when he won by 50 points. Bost has more than $648,000 on hand, according to FEC records.
A Trump endorsement would be huge in the high-profile contest.
A person familiar with the Trump campaign said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told the former speaker that he supports reliable conservative Bost, who also endorsed McCarthy’s election to the House seat.
Bailey’s team would also like an endorsement, though failing that they would like Trump to remain neutral.
Trump likes to back winners and might be annoyed that Bailey lost by double digits to Pritzker.
The race for governor grabbed national headlines when Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association spent $35 million on advertising during the Republican primary to pit Bailey as a far-right conservative against a more moderate candidate. This fueled the Republican base to win the vote and secure Bailey’s seat in the general election and paved the way for a Pritzker victory.
The ads also helped build Bailey’s image as a MAGA Republican. He has amassed a strong grassroots following and is seen in Illinois Republican circles as a formidable candidate against Bost.
Bailey may have been looking for Bost’s job even before last year’s race for governor was over. Flyers were distributed in the deeply conservative 12th District promoting Bailey even though it’s an area that Bailey had easily patched up for the governor’s contest.
Bailey’s real challenge in the race for governor was conquering the Democratic stronghold of Chicago, where most of the state’s population lives.
The 12th District, meanwhile, voted for Trump 56% to 41% in 2020 and 55% to 40% in 2016.