Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara on Monday endorsed Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey for governor — but later told reporters that no candidate is “going to check every single box that you agree with.”
Catanzara, who in June announced his union’s support for Republican primary candidate Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, said Bailey, the southern Illinois farmer who carried 57.7% of the GOP vote, “proved us all wrong.”
“He got historic numbers north of [Interstate] 80 that many of our members didn’t think he could do,” Catanzara said at the Chicago FOP Lodge #7 office.
Catanzara, whose union represents over 17,000 current and former rank-and-file officers, said Bailey has shown law enforcement he backs them, “unlike any of the politicians in this state.”
Illinois Fraternal Order of Police President Chris Southwood also endorsed Bailey, saying the Republican gubernatorial nominee “supports public safety, law enforcement and sanity — three things that are definitely not priorities in the current administration.”
Bailey, who did not take questions from reporters, called Gov. JB Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx “the three musketeers of crime.”
“With chaos, tragedy and crime in Chicago, as shootouts and mayhem terrorize the city, the trio have more than turned their backs on our police officers,” Bailey said. “They have actively attacked them.”
Bailey detailed his crime plan, which includes repealing Foxx via legislation as his “first order of business,” and the creation of a statewide prosecutor position to prosecute crimes.
Bailey said he’d repeal the SAFE-T act and reinstate cash bail; repeal limits on pre-trial detention for violent criminals; prioritize state funds to hire and retain officers by increasing a sign-on and retention bonus; and work to end anonymous complaints against police.
Pritzker signed the SAFE-T, a criminal justice package aimed at addressing longstanding public safety issues and police distrust, into law last year. Republicans and some state’s attorneys are concerned about the act’s provision to end cash bail beginning in January 2023. The law also requires body cameras at all departments by 2025, reforms use-of-force standards and expands detainee rights.
Bailey also said he’d increase penalties for those who assault law enforcement and reinstate the death penalty for convicted cop killers. He’d also get cameras on all public transit vehicles.
After the endorsement, Catanzara told reporters Bailey’s social stances, including a staunchly anti-abortion agenda, played no role in his decision, or that of his members — despite abortion playing in the forefront of many elections across the country.
“What I’ve told my members from the day I took office, I don’t care about any of that,” Catanzara said. “That’s not my job. That’s not our job. Our job is your job that puts a roof over your head and a paycheck in your pocket and puts your kids in school. … It’s all about our jobs going forward. That’s it.”
Catanzara said the Chicago FOP previously backed Irvin because of concerns over Bailey’s positions on pensions. But Catanzara said Bailey responded to further questions from the union and assured them he would not push for constitutional changes to pensions in the state.
As for not being in total agreement with Bailey’s policies or his voting record, Catanzara said “no candidate has a hundred percent checkmark.”
“And if you think you’re going to find somebody that’s going to check every single box that you agree with as an organization, you’re in the clouds. It’s just not going to happen,” Catanzara said. “So he’s going to have his opinions that are different. All I know is he has pledged to support our profession and give us a voice that we did not have in the SAFE-T Act crafting, in any step of the way.”
Pritzker’s campaign responded to the endorsements with a reminder that Bailey hasn’t voted for Democrat-led budgets, which included more funding to help strengthen police departments in the state.
Reacting to the Chicago bashing and “musketeers” remark at an unrelated Chicago news conference she attended with Pritzker on Monday afternoon, Lightfoot said Bailey keeps swinging towards “division and dystopia,” depending on “which base he’s pandering to.”
The mayor said she’s had just two conversations with the state senator, including one in which she said he “aggressively” came up to her to complain about the way she talked about former President Donald Trump.
“To which I said, ‘I don’t like the way your president is talking about my city,’” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said Bailey reached out to meet with her after his June primary victory.
“His Republican right-wing money is drying up so now suddenly, moving away from ‘Oh, I want to meet with the mayor and talk to her,’ to ‘Oh, this is a hellhole, and we’ve got to throw all of the bums out.’
“This feckless person no way, no how deserves to be taken seriously, and he certainly doesn’t deserve anyone’s vote to be governor of the state,” Lightfoot said. “We have a governor that’s leading us, and he’s standing right here. His name is J.B. Pritzker.”