Bost defeats Bailey in Illinois’ 12th District GOP primary, Loyd wins in the 13th

Gun Rights

Updated at 11:25 p.m. March 19 with comments from candidates and results in the 12th District

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. — U.S. Rep. Mike Bost comfortably defeated former state Sen. Darren Bailey in the GOP primary for Illinois’ 12th Congressional District on Tuesday.

Bost claimed victory around 9:45 p.m., and Bailey conceded the race minutes later. As of 11:25 p.m., Bost led by 6 percentage points with 81% of the vote tallied.


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“We’ve been doing this for quite a few years and most times, it’s in a general election,” Bailey said during his victory party at Brews Brothers Taproom in Murphysboro. “And when you do it in a primary, unfortunately, it’s friends on friends.”

While Bailey won big in the eastern part of the 12th Congressional District, Bost won by huge margins in the Metro East — including landslides in Monroe and St. Clair counties. He also pummeled Bailey in Jackson County, which includes Carbondale.


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The Murphysboro Republican’s victory in the southern Illinois district showcased former President Donald Trump’s power when it comes to endorsing candidates in heavily GOP districts. Bost credited Trump’s endorsement as “vitally important” to his win.

The race marked Bost’s most difficult intraparty battle since he won the 12th District seat in 2014. Because the district, which includes portions of the Metro East, is heavily Republican, Bost’s primary victory is tantamount to a win in the general election in November.

Bailey told a crowd of supporters at his watch party in Louisville that his campaign “made a statement.”

“Hopefully the party will take notice that we’re not going to take this nonsense anymore and this sellout attitude,” Bailey said.

The race was contentious. Bailey, who won the nomination for Illinois governor in 2022, was trying to ride momentum from that unsuccessful run to unseat Bost. Bailey contended that Bost was insufficiently conservative on immigration issues — and also said he didn’t do enough as chairman of a House committee overseeing the Veterans Administration to undo COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Bost said Bailey didn’t accomplish much during his tenure as a state senator. He also said that Bailey was misrepresenting his record and added that he wanted to actually accomplish things in Washington — which often means being pragmatic instead of voting “no” on everything.

“I said right off the start, I am a governing conservative,” Bost said. “What does that mean? That means that yes, I hold my conservative views. But I want to make sure that this nation advances — that we stop the fighting, we work together as Republicans. I’m a big believer in Ronald Reagan, when he used to say: ‘You know what, if you’re 80% with me, you’re my friend.’ And that we have to work together to make this nation better for all.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, reacts after defeating Illinois 12th Congressional District GOP Primary opponent Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at a campaign watch party at Brews Brothers Taproom Murphysboro, Ill.

Brian Munoz

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St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, reacts after defeating Illinois 12th Congressional District GOP Primary opponent Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at a campaign watch party at Brews Brothers Taproom Murphysboro, Ill.

Also helping Bost was a sizable fundraising advantage. Bost raised more than $2.1 million during the 2024 election cycle. Bailey raised less than $400,000 but also loaned his campaign $110,000.

During his speech, Bost said that Republicans needed to unite in the run-up to the general election — especially since the House GOP only has a small majority.

“Because if we’re going to turn this ship of state in the right direction, we have to take a larger majority in the House,” Bost said. “We have to take the Senate, and we need a president to guide us from that Republican Party.”

A staffer for U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, puts up endorsement signage on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, during an Illinois Primary Election watch party at Brews Brothers Taproom Murphysboro, Ill.

Brian Munoz

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St. Louis Public Radio

A staffer for U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, puts up endorsement signage on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, during an Illinois Primary Election watch party at Brews Brothers Taproom Murphysboro, Ill.

In some respects, the Bost-Bailey race reflected the fractures in the House GOP caucus.

Bailey received backing from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who helped oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the speakership. Bost has been fiercely critical of Gaetz since the GOP took over the House, contending that the Florida Republican helped sow chaos in the chamber.

Bost ended up receiving backing from a number of his Republican colleagues, including U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas and House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana. He also received key endorsements from groups like National Right to Life and the National Rifle Association.

Still, Bost said he wasn’t surprised that the race wasn’t a blowout — noting that Bailey had high name recognition from his gubernatorial bid against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“But he chose to run against a conservative, and every time that he tried to attack us on an issue, I got endorsed by the people he said I didn’t support,” Bost said. “But that being said, his name recognition was strong. I don’t know that his message was strong. I respect him. He’s a man of faith, and I won’t badmouth another man of faith.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, calls Darren Bailey, lIlinois 12th Congressional District GOP Primary opponent, on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at a campaign watch party at Brews Brothers Taproom Murphysboro, Ill.

Brian Munoz

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St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, calls Darren Bailey, lIlinois 12th Congressional District GOP Primary opponent, on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at a campaign watch party at Brews Brothers Taproom Murphysboro, Ill.

Whether Bost’s win means that he won’t face a strong primary challenge again remains to be seen. Given that the district is so Republican, Bost isn’t ruling out that this may not be his last tough primary fight.

“I hope that I don’t ever have to have a primary again. But in this district, odds are I may right now,” Bost said. “My job is to do the best job I can for the future. I’m not going to do this forever. I’m not. But right now, I know what needs to be done. I’ve got the experience and the know-how to work with my colleagues to gain ground and not fight among ourselves — but instead move the ball forward for the betterment of this nation.”

13th Congressional District

In the GOP primary for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District, Joshua Loyd defeated Thomas Clatterbuck, with the Associated Press calling the race shortly after 11 p.m. The winner will take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski in November.


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“We’re not 100% there yet. It’s nice to have won the primary, but the work is not done,” Loyd said. “We still have a lot of work to do, a lot of ground to cover and a lot of people to meet.”

Loyd, 27, and his wife run a photography business. He served in the Army before attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he earned a degree in business management.

Loyd said his campaign had three main pillars: “teacher, preacher and service.” Those mean that he wants to improve education, support philanthropic organizations serving their communities and better local police departments and military, he said.

Clatterbuck, 31, is in his last semester of law school at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He describes himself as center-right.

Loyd will be an underdog in the district, which stretches from Granite City to the Champaign-Urbana area. Illinois Democrats drew the district in 2022 to be Democratic leaning, and Budzinski has far more money on hand than either of her GOP opponents.

Budzinski won her seat in 2022 by 13 percentage points. Turnout is expected to be higher in 2024, and since Illinois is a Democratic-leaning state it may make the 13th District out of reach — especially when Republicans have better opportunities elsewhere.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Brian Munoz and WBEZ reporter Mawa Iqbal contributed to this article.

Copyright 2024 St. Louis Public Radio.

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