MARION, Ill. (WSIL) -- Before entering Illinois politics, Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville) was a farmer who served as chairman of the North Clay Unit 25 Board of Education in Louisville for 12 years.
In 2018, he scored an upset victory over incumbent 109th Dist. Rep. David Reis in the primary, and later won the seat in November. Two years later, Bailey won the vacated 55th district senate seat in Louisville.
And now Bailey is setting his sights on Springfield, hoping that his sudden rise can topple Gov. JB Pritzker in 2022. He blamed Pritzker and Democrats for policies that he says hurt middle class workers.
"We've tried the billionaire approach here in Illinois friends and it simply doesn't work," Bailey said." [This campaign] stands against absolutely anything and everything Illinois political elite and the political class has ever understood."
BUSES AND PROMISES
A large tour bus parked across the street from the Southern Illinois Mercantile Company in Marion for the first of its three stops on Tuesday.
Both sides of the blue bus had a picture of Bailey flanked by the phrase 'Standing For You In 2022'. On the top and bottom of the picture, were the words 'Bold & Courageous Leadership".
Inside the store, more than 100 supporters welcomed Bailey with thunderous rounds of cheers and applause.
"We are seeking the nomination of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, to be your next governor in 2022," Bailey said. "I look forward to that journey with you."
During his speech, Bailey promised tax cuts for working class voters by 2024, or the second year of his term should he win in 2022. Bailey vowed for more transparency on spending by utilizing a 'zero-based budget'.
"Every department starts at 'zero' and each department will have to build their case for every penny that's going to be spent within their department," Bailey said. "Illinois has a 'spending issue, not a revenue issue."
ON BOARD WITH BAILEY
Among the dozens joining Bailey on his journey to Springfield was Eldorado resident Joe Debose.
"He's a fighter for regular, hard-working people, and the much-needed tax relief that we need in Illinois," Debose said.
Tanya Miller, the store's co-owner, gave her own speech moments after Bailey finished. She implored voters to get on board with Bailey.
"I know that there are greater days ahead. God has a plan for us and we need to claim it," Miller said. "We need to go into the enemy's camp and take back what is stolen from us. Right now."
Earnest Newton, of Cobden, said 'Thank You' to Bailey in the middle of his speech and gave a standing ovation at the end.
When asked why he thanked Bailey, Newton said, "Because he's espousing ideas that I believe in and I think is good for Illinois."
After Marion, Bailey's bus tour continued in Highland and Bloomington. The bus is set to stop in Utica, Love's Park and Shorewood on Wednesday.
"Our children, our grandchildren, my children. your children, they're counting on us," Bailey said. "As the bus says, I'm asking you to stand with us in 2022."