GOP nominee for Illinois governor doubles down on Holocaust analogy

‘The Jewish community themselves have told me that I’m right,’ Darren Bailey, who is challenging Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker, said

By Jacob Kornbluh, The Forward

Darren Bailey, the Republican nominee for Illinois governor, doubled down in a campaign stop over the weekend on a previous statement that the Holocaust “doesn’t even compare” to abortion on the scale of human atrocities. He suggested that all the rabbis he met with backed his analogy.

In a clip of an interview published on Monday, Bailey said he doesn’t see the need to apologize for saying in a video – that was posted on Facebook in 2017 and first reported by the Forward earlier this month – that “the attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life that has been lost with abortion since its legalization.”

“The Jewish community themselves have told me that I’m right,” Bailey said. “All the people at the Chabads that we met with and the Jewish rabbis they said, ‘No, you’re actually right.’”

Rabbi Avraham Kagan, the director of government affairs for Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois, told the Forward, “We don’t know who he met with and his comments do not reflect our position.”

The Republican candidate is running against Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker, who is Jewish. Pritzker’s campaign immediately released a TV ad highlighting the Holocaust remark.

The Springfield Jewish Federation said in a statement, “Holocaust comparisons are always fraught, and inappropriate when used politically.”

In the interview, Bailey said the Pritzker ad was timed to come out a day before he had a scheduled meeting with local Jewish leaders. “Pritzker, you know, knew that,” he said “So the timeliness was no mistake.”

Bailey said the widespread condemnation of his remarks is frustrating “because anybody that would watch my message, the whole nine minutes of it, would understand exactly what I was saying and where I was going with this.”

Natalie Edelstein, a Pritzker campaign spokesperson, said Bailey’s comments “and his inability to apologize and take ownership of his words, are disqualifying.”