Darren Bailey, a Republican candidate for Illinois governor, met with striking John Deere union workers Tuesday, as well as some local media, on the day the United Auto Workers locals voted on ratifying their new tentative contract.

“As a future governor, I believe manufacturing and industry are vitally important to the state,” Bailey said Tuesday. “When I see this situation with men and women – and it hits close to home, since John Deere equipment is what we use on our farm – I wanted to come up here and hear from these men and women, what the problem was.

“When I see on the farm, when we have a good year, we share it with the men and women that are working,” Bailey said. “We have to keep their wages, their level of livelihood to where they’re going to stay.”

Darren Bailey (right) meets with striking UAW workers from John Deere on Tuesday in Moline.

If people across the state are unhappy, that will cause them to leave, and that’s what has been happening in Illinois for 10 years, he said. “John Deere has been tremendously profitable,” and that wealth should be shared with employees, Bailey said.

A 55-year-old native of southern Illinois, he’s a third-generation farmer in Louisville, Ill. (mainly corn and soybeans), 30 minutes south of Effingham. He owns a 12,000-acre farm, a trucking company and an excavating business.

Bailey on Tuesday met with several striking John Deere union workers in Moline.

The UAW members he spoke with were against the specific tentative agreement that was struck with Deere to extend their contract through 2027 (including a 10% wage increase the first year), and was ultimately rejected later Tuesday, he said. “One thing on the line I found that I was happy about – people love their job; they love John Deere; they love Illinois.”

The state needs to be focused on developing more successful businesses like Deere.

“Bringing industry in – that’s the solution to the future of Illinois,” Bailey said. “Putting people to work, they make money, they pay taxes, they support local businesses. That’s how we’ve got to grow the economy in Illinois.”

“Unfortunately, over the last several years, that’s been stifled in state government, and that’s what I stand for,” he said.

Bailey and his wife Cindy (who have four children and 10 grandkids) have always lived by the motto of faith, family, and farming. In 2016, along with running the family farm, they founded Full Armor Christian Academy, a pre-K through grade 12 school that gives parents the option of a Christ-centered education for their children. The school serves about 400 students.

Darren Bailey (seated in sunglasses) with his wife, four sons, daughters-in-law and 10 grandchildren.

Bailey says he’s dedicated countless hours to improving education in Illinois and served 17 years on the North Clay Unit 25 Board of Education in Louisville, 12 years as board president.

In 2018, Bailey was called to serve in government after he didn’t like what his local representative was doing, and was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives 109th district. There he fought against tax hikes, reckless spending, and sanctuary state legislation.

Bailey currently represents the 55th district in the Illinois State Senate (elected in 2020) and with his lifelong background in farming, is the lead Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee. As a State Senator, he refuses a legislative pension and makes tax relief for hardworking Illinoisans a top priority.

Bailey is a member of the Louisville Rotary Club and Illinois Independent Business Federation, as well as the Illinois Wheat Association, National and State Corn Growers Association, National and State Soybean Association, and the Fellowship of Christian Farmers. Bailey is also a lifetime member of the Farm Bureau and an alumnus of Future Farmers of America.

An avid outdoorsman, he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and is a member of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

He wanted to run for governor because of the state’s high, “reckless” taxes and what he called “a burdensome life in Illinois.”

Outspoken opponent of Gov. Pritzker

“I’m really concerned about the future of Illinois,” Bailey said Tuesday. In April 2020, he sued Gov. JB Pritzker over his COVID shutdown orders.

He claimed the governor overextended his powers by issuing additional stay-at-home orders after his original disaster proclamation, that expired April 9, 2020.

“Enough is enough. I filed this lawsuit on behalf of myself and my constituents who are ready to go back to work and resume a normal life,” Bailey said then.

Bailey was elected to the Illinois House in 2018 and the State Senate in 2020.

“I didn’t feel like he should be able to do that, as a state representative at that time,” he said Tuesday. “I think they should call the General Assembly together to pass a law. Under the Illinois Emergency Action Agency, we have an act in place. It gives the governor 30 days to come up with ideas, take care of situations, and after the 30 days I believe, and the lawsuit was proven, that he should convene the General Assembly. Let the people, being a representative form of government, decide.”

Each county health department should be able to set their rules as they see fit, Bailey said.

In May 2020, he made national news when the Illinois House voted to throw Bailey out of a legislative session after he refused to wear a face mask. Democratic Rep. Emanuel Welch made a motion to remove Bailey from the House proceedings, and lawmakers voted 81-27 in favor of Bailey’s removal from the floor.

Asked about Bailey’s actions, Gov. Pritzker said then: “The representative has shown a callous disregard for life, callous disregard for people’s health. You just heard [Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike] tell you why people wear masks in the first place is to protect others. So clearly the representative has no interest in protecting others.”

Tuesday, Bailey said the governor’s executive orders have been driven unilaterally, without consulting others. “We are a constitutional republic, represented by our government,” he said.

“Here we are a year and a half later, after multiple executive orders, we believe it’s obviously destroying business; it’s destroying families and children,” Bailey said of Pritzker’s COVID policies. “The General Assembly should have been involved in that – elected officials should have been the ones making laws, whether or not we shut down schools, we shut down businesses. And that didn’t happen.”

Bailey’s experience as a lawmaker has opened his eyes to the waste in government, he said Tuesday.

“Whether it’s been spending, wasted resources, time,” he said. “I think the burden on the Illinois taxpayer, we can be more efficient. I think being a businessperson and a farmer, I can’t spend more than I make.”

State government operates at a deficit and either borrows money or issues bonds, and Bailey says that’s nonsense.

“It seems like in the state of Illinois, whenever there’s a problem, they want to throw money at it than being accountable, finding the solutions. Find out what agencies are working, what agencies are not.”

Bailey will run in the Republican gubernatorial primary in Illinois June 28, 2022.

So far, Bailey has raised about $1.6 million for the G.O.P. primary next June 28.

He said Tuesday he’s not afraid to stand up for important issues, and take issue with members of his own party, such as those who have supported increases in the gas tax.

“I’m for the people,” Bailey said. “I’ve stood up, stuck my neck out for the people, and people across the state are appreciating that. That’s what is driving and influencing this journey.”

An independent Oct. 3-4 poll of 404 likely Republican voters showed Bailey with a commanding lead — 33.3 percent of those surveyed chose him, far ahead of fellow Republicans Gary Rabine, Paul Schimpf and Jesse Sullivan.

For more information, visit baileyforillinois.com.