XENIA, Il. (WTWO/WAWV) — After losing the Illinois gubernatorial race in 2022 to incumbent JB Pritzker, Darren Bailey said he initially wanted to return full-time to his farm in Clay County, Illinois, and not return to politics.

When asked by mywabashvalley.com why he decided to run in another political race, this time for Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, he pointed to his supporters.

“My wife and family and friends, we prayed and we fasted for 10 days,” Bailey recalled. “And we feel like this is a mission field, this mission field of government, and for such a time as this, that we belong here as the people, the grassroots movement all across the state that fought so hard, for two years in the race for governor. And we believe that by going to DC, having a larger platform, a larger voice, that we’ll be able to shine that light back on the woes and the failings of Illinois and eventually reverse the tide.”

Bailey’s platform during his campaign for governor was critical of many aspects of Illinois politics, ranging from gun control legislation to abortion bans to energy initiatives.

Regarding gun control, Bailey said he stands firm on his belief in the Second Amendment.

“There have been bills that infringe on our Second Amendment rights that have been supported by southern Illinois legislators in DC,” Bailey said. “I don’t like that. I feel like it is the Second Amendment that protects the First (Amendment) and I believe that above everything else, that is the amendment we must stand strong on and not waiver.”

When it comes to the topic of abortion and the overturning of Roe vs. Wade in the Supreme Court in 2022, Bailey expressed pride in the overturning and the fact that the decision is now “back on the state level where it belongs”.

Discussing energy, Bailey referenced southern Illinois’ coal and natural gas industries.

“I have no problem with solar, I have no problem with wind,” Bailey said. “We’ve obviously got a ways to go before they are, you know, self-reliant in and of themselves. So don’t infringe on our coal powered energy, don’t infringe on our natural gas powered backup energy. Our coal mines, we’ve got coal that we could be pumping out and and selling elsewhere, but because of a carbon tax implemented from Springfield, it makes it too expensive, and coal mines are shutting down.”

When asked about reaching across the aisle to achieve bipartisan legislation, Bailey referenced his work in Springfield.

“On several occasion, the other side of the aisle literally came to me as probably one of the most conservative voices in Springfield because they knew my interest,” Bailey said. “Whether it was education, whether it was the pharmaceutical benefit managers, getting them out of the way to make pharmaceuticals cheaper.”

Bailey said his congressional platform would still address efforts he said he pushed in Springfield to help counties bordering the Wabash River and Indiana.

“What I was fighting for was small business on our side of the river,” Bailey said. “That they can know that their business can be profitable and can be sustainable because people aren’t driving across the river into Indiana to save money on fuel, to save money on grocers, to save money on anything they purchase.”

Bailey faces off against U.S. Rep. Mike Bost in the 12th District Illinois Congressional primary election set for March 19, 2024.