(The Center Square) – Three of the six candidates running in the June 28 primary for Illinois governor – those with the most campaign contributions – are sparring in the media as a recent poll indicates it's really a two-way race.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has $87 million in political funds, according to campaign finance data compiled by IllinoisSunshine.org. Democratic challenger Beverly Miles has $260.

For the Republicans, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has the most money of all six GOP candidates, with $36 million. He was called out last week by the third place money holder, state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, who has $3.4 million.

“I also hear my top competitor in this primary sent a press release today from his basement because he’s a coward,” Bailey said during a news conference. “He’s too afraid to face the public.”

Irvin held his first news conference Monday about a report of Pritzker’s handling of a COVID-19 outbreak at a veterans' home that killed 36 in 2020. Media peppered Irvin with off-topic questions about abortion, former President Donald Trump and the primary. Irvin said Bailey is a hypocrite and entrepreneur Jesse Sullivan, who has the second most money of the GOP candidates at $8.1 million, is not honest about his service overseas.

“As a veteran of the United States Army, I’m offended that somebody would pretend that they served our country,” Irvin said. “He [also] advocates and supports open borders.”

Sullivan, who said he was a civilian contractor for the Department of Defense in Afghanistan, fired back with a campaign ad featuring veterans.

“He was essential to our mission,” retired Air Force Master Sergeant Shawn Miller said.

“I know, because I served with him, shoulder-to-shoulder,” Army veteran Michael Mitchell said.

A narrator in the ad says, “this is dirty politics, at its worst.”

On the issue of the border, Sullivan’s campaign said Irvin has his source wrong and Sullivan supports enforcing federal immigration laws and does not support so-called “sanctuary cities” that embrace illegal immigrants.

Other candidates in the GOP primary for Illinois governor are former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, businessman Gary Rabine and attorney Max Solomon.

Schimpf’s campaign put out a statement expressing concern “regarding the destructive nature of primary elections and stated there must be an end to the internal party bickering that divides the party and keeps voters at bay.”

“Illinois needs a governor who will listen, learn, and lead us in a way that unites and recognizes that the strength of Illinois is its people, not its government,” Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said.

In a recent poll conducted by Cor Strategies, Irvin leads with Bailey in second. Collin Corbett with Cor Strategies said the more a candidate gets their message out, the better they seem to poll.

“That’s why you see that the candidate in the lead is in the lead because they’re putting a lot of time and effort and mostly money into pushing their message right in front of voters,” Corbett told WMAY.

The poll of likely Republican voters was conducted from Apr. 29 to May 2, and was nearly split between men and women across all age ranges. About 17% of those polled were from Cook County, 28% from the Chicago suburbs and 55% from the rest of the state.

Irvin received 33% support overall in the poll. Bailey captured 21%. Sullivan has 10% support. Everyone else was in single digits.

Cor Strategies' poll also reviewed favorability in various regions of the state.

“Gary Rabine is doing a little better in the suburbs, even Jesse Sullivan’s doing decent in the suburbs, but really it still comes down to Irvin and Bailey,” Corbett said. “It really does look like it’s going to be those two fighting for first and second.”