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‘Let me finish’: Irvin deflects questions, criticizes Pritzker response to LaSalle outbreak deaths

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin faced questions from reporters Monday after two months without a news conference. This also was the first time the Republican gubernatorial candidate spoke about his stance on abortion rights.

Last week, leaders across the state quickly responded to the leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. While that document isn’t the official decision, many speculate the court’s ruling will allow state legislatures to decide the future of abortion rights for their citizens in June.

“Listen, I’m pro-life,” Irvin said.

But Irvin doesn’t want to address the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade this summer until it is official. He said it is irresponsible to speculate what the final decision will be, and he will only address the issue when the decision is handed down.

The candidate appeared defensive during the event at his campaign headquarters in Aurora. He said he won’t talk about what federal lawmakers plan to do because most of the voters he talks with care more about Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing the bill to repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion Act.

“One of the things that most concerns people across the spectrum is the fact that this legislation has been signed that gives a teenager the ability to go into an abortion clinic and get an abortion without parental notification whatsoever,” Irvin said. “As I said, that’s abhorrent and across the spectrum, people agree that’s extreme.”

Irvin cut off many questions by yelling “hold on” and “let me finish.” In fact, Irvin said “let me finish” at least 25 times during the 10 minutes allowed for questions.

He said his exceptions for abortion are in cases of rape, incest, and for the health and safety of a mother.

Irvin also evaded questions about his Democratic voting record. He has frequently criticized the records of primary opponents Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan.

A Pritzker campaign spokesperson said Irvin’s “cowardly attempts to deflect” are a preview into what his administration would look like.

“Illinois families deserve a leader who can run on their record, not one who is desperate to talk about anything else,” Eliza Glezer said.

Several reporters asked Irvin if he voted for former President Donald Trump and if he would vote for Trump again if he decides to run for re-election in 2024.

“That’s exactly what J.B. Pritzker wants all of you to be talking about,” Irvin said. “He wants to be talking about anything other than his failures and his record and how my success as the mayor of the city of Aurora trump his failures as a state. We’re here talking today about 36 veterans, 36 heroes of the state of Illinois that died because of his gross negligence.”

Irvin is the latest Republican to campaign off of a new audit about the deadly 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle. Irvin claims Pritzker didn’t care about the outbreak until reporters started questioning the administration.

The suburban mayor said he is sickened by the fact the Pritzker administration “sat idly by.” He also said Pritzker frequently criticized former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s response to the Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed 13 residents at the Veterans Home in Quincy. Irvin noted that Pritzker said he would do better as governor, but he argues Pritzker has failed.

“There is quite simply no reason why this tragedy could not have been prevented,” Irvin said. “Thirty-six families lost their loved ones due to the negligence and incompetence of J.B. Pritzker and his administration.”

Senate Deputy Republican Leader Sue Rezin and Rep. David Welter joined Irvin in criticizing the state’s response to the deadly outbreak. They are calling on Deputy Gov. Sol Flores to resign.

Pritzker said last week that Republican lawmakers across the state are partly to blame because they didn’t encourage people to wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. Irvin previously said he was against statewide mask and vaccine mandates.

The Illinois primary election is June 28.

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