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Q&A: Jason Barickman weighs in on Darren Bailey’s candidacy and politicking in polarized times

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State Sen. Jason Barickman also spoke about what it’s like to be a politician in a time of widening polarization – as Barickman puts it, when those on the political extremes are organized, loud, and demanding.

State Sen. Jason Barickman from Bloomington-Normal acknowledges that he strikes a different “tone” than some of his fellow Republicans, including state Sen. Darren Bailey.

With the ultra-conservative, Trump-endorsed Bailey seemingly on the verge of winning the GOP nomination for governor, some have questioned how he’ll connect with voters in the general election. U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, who represents parts of Bloomington-Normal and a national fundraiser for Republicans, recently told The New York Times that Bailey would be toxic for general-election voters and “should be running in Missouri, not in suburban Chicago.”

Speaking on WGLT’s Sound Ideas, Barickman was asked what he thinks about Bailey’s campaign for governor.

“He has been very vocal about his opposition to the governor’s unilateral approach to handling COVID and the state’s response to it. That has been divisive, and it is divisive. I was of the belief that the governor was flying solo without any input from anyone. And while my tone may be different than some of my other Republicans, we desire the same thing – which is a governor who collaborates with the legislature,” Barickman said. “I think the governor was wrong there. So I’m not one who’s going to throw fire at Darren for his response, because I think … if we want a collaborative environment, if we want to bring people together, rather than criticizing a potential opponent of the governor, I think we need to look at the governor. He’s the governor. Why didn’t he bring people together?”

Barickman also spoke about what it’s like to be a politician in a time of widening polarization – as Barickman puts it, when those on the political extremes are organized, loud, and demanding.

Barickman said modern redistricting – led in Illinois by Democrats, and by Republicans in other states – is a structural driver of that polarization. Republicans in Illinois are in the minority in the House and Senate and do not have any statewide office holders.

“I hope one of the outcomes of this November election is that we have a little bit more balance in the state. Because it’s lacking significantly. And the result … the proof’s in the pudding. You’re seeing one side make all of the decisions without input from the other. I just don’t think that’s ever good, whether Republicans are in charge or Democrats are in charge. No one party should be calling all the shots.”

Listen to more of Barickman’s interview above.

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.
Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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