Darren Bailey and J.B. Pritzker

GOP gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia (left) and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (right)

(The Center Square) – In the final days of the campaign for Illinois governor, the major party candidates are taking jabs at each other for closing schools during the pandemic.

Friday, state Sen. Darren Bailey rallied with school officials from southern Illinois demanding more local control. Bailey criticized Gov. J.B. Pritzker for ordering schools closed during the pandemic.

“When J.B. unilaterally locked down our schools, he decimated education and he stole precious moments from our children,” Bailey said. “Never again can we allow this to happen.”

Alongside other governors, Pritzker suspended in-person education for months during the pandemic, a move seen to have set back education nationwide.

“J.B. shut down schools. He eliminated sports. He canceled graduation and proms and he destroyed mental health,” Bailey said. “J.B. owes students an apology. He owes all of our families an apology.”

Pritzker responded to Bailey at a campaign event in Chicago Friday.

“Darren Bailey, if he had been governor, he would have caused the death of tens of thousands of people because he didn’t care about any mitigations,” Pritzker said. “He himself is not vaccinated. He told people not to get vaccinated and he told people not to wear masks and sued to try to get that effectuated across the state.”

Pritzker said Bailey “doesn’t know what he is doing and shouldn’t come near the governor’s office.”

Bailey had said his strategy during a pandemic would be to educate the public, not issue unilateral mandates.

Also on the ballot is Libertarian candidate Scott Schluter. The election is Tuesday.

Associate Editor

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.