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Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, a candidate for governor in the Republican primary, holds a news conference on May 9, 2022. (WTTW News)

GOP gubernatorial candidate and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has carefully attempted to veer away from any conversation about controversial former President Donald Trump. But text messages written by Irvin in 2018 appear to show he has very strong feelings about Trump, and they are not positive.

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Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, a candidate for governor in the Republican primary, holds a news conference on May 9, 2022. (WTTW News)

Aurora Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin slammed Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s handling of a COVID-19 outbreak at a state-run veterans’ home during a Monday press conference – and repeatedly avoided questions about whether he voted for Donald Trump and his stance on Roe v. Wade potentially being overturned.

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Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is pictured in April 2020. (WTTW News)

Aurora Mayor and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin supported a successful 2018 effort to shutter the Aurora Election Commission – a move that gives him a role in deciding whether certain candidates stay on city ballots.

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State Sen. Darren Bailey is escorted out of a May 2020 Illinois Senate session for not wearing a mask. (WTTW News)

His campaign said Darren Bailey’s stance on masking has been “consistent” despite a policy at his family business that could be viewed as contradictory to his public anti-masking message. According to federal documents, face coverings are required for certain workers at the Bailey Family Farm, of which he is registered as a trustee.  

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Scientel Solutions, pictured in March 2022, relocated to Aurora after plans for its tower were approved in 2018. (Paris Schutz / WTTW News)

WTTW News previously reported that communications company Scientel Solutions and its employees have given more than $135,000 to Richard Irvin’s mayoral campaign, a PAC run by his mayoral campaign manager, and his former private practice law partner Brittany Pedersen’s judicial campaign.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his "Cargo Load" ad touting the expansion of Rockford Airport. (YouTube)

Environmentalists have been taken aback by a campaign ad in which Gov. J.B. Pritzker touts the expansion of Rockford Airport, which will demolish an 8,000-year-old remnant prairie.

Web of Politically-Connected Companies Involved in $128M Hospital Redevelopment

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The former site of Copley Hospital in Aurora will include senior living residences, as depicted in this rendering, along with a medical facility and school administrative building. (Courtesy of Fox Valley Developers)

The ex-wife of Aurora Mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin works with a development team that stands to receive up to $15 million in Aurora city incentives, with the potential for millions more to redevelop the former Copley Hospital site.

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Developers involved with Pacifica Square in Aurora, which opened in 2021, donated $25,000 to campaigns connected to Mayor Richard Irvin. (Paris Schutz / WTTW News)

A WTTW News review of public records has also found that Aurora taxpayers are on the hook for tens of millions in tax incentives to two other development companies that have donated thousands to Richard Irvin and political funds connected to him.

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Scientel Solutions, pictured in March 2022, relocated to Aurora after plans for its tower were approved in 2018. (WTTW News)

A review of state campaign filings and Aurora public records shows that a company that donated more than $135,000 to political funds connected to Richard Irvin also received millions in city contracts. That same company was also the beneficiary of legislation pushed by Irvin that could prove lucrative.

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(WTTW News)

There were no major surprises as the window closed, with no big names mounting a surprise challenge to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. With Petersburg’s Jesse Sullivan getting his petitions in before the 5 p.m. deadline, all five of the high-profile Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for governor have filed to run in what’s expected to be a contentious race.

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Candidates line up at the Illinois State Board of Election to file petitions on March 7, 2022. (WTTW News)

Anyone in line to file their petitions by the time election authorities opened their doors has a chance to be listed first on the ballot for their race, a position that could make a difference by attracting voters’ eyeballs in a close contest.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his budget address to a mostly virtual audience from Springfield on Feb. 2, 2022. (WTTW News)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Wednesday afternoon address from the Old State Capitol was delivered to a mostly virtual audience after a snowstorm thwarted plans for an in-person session of the General Assembly.

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(Irvin Campaign)

The first campaign salvo by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin erroneously claims he deserves credit for “calling out” the Illinois National Guard once protests turned violent on June 1 and falsely claims that Chicago officials “did nothing to stop looting.”

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(Irvin Campaign)

It’s been nearly a year since candidates began announcing their intent to run for Illinois governor, but Monday brought a new entrant to shake up the race. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin declared he’s running as a Republican in an online video. 

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Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin (Aurora Mayor’s Office)

Multiple sources tell WTTW News that Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is currently planning to announce his candidacy for governor on Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.