Despite differences, police unions endorse Bailey for governor, because he backs officers ‘unlike any of the politicians in this state’

With a message that no candidate has a “100% checkmark,” Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara on Monday stood alongside Darren Bailey to announce his endorsement of the downstate Republican senator for governor.

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 candidate “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. J.B. 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 filing legislation to repeal Foxx, which he said would be his “first order of business.” He’d also create the office of the statewide prosecutor under the state attorney general with the power to prosecute crimes.

Bailey said he’d work to 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.

The downstate senator 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 and charge people for crimes occurring on the CTA.

Pritzker’s campaign fired back that Bailey hasn’t supported Democrat-led budgets, which included provisions for more police officers and more funding to help strengthen police departments in the state.

“Bailey’s real record is one of staggering inaction and contradiction, and we deserve better,” Pritzker spokeswoman Eliza Glezer said in a statement.

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.

“He explained what that motivation was behind it. And it wasn’t necessarily law enforcement. But you can’t crack the door open for one without exposing everybody,” Catanzara said. “So he kind of backed off and publicly told me and President Southwood, even at the state conference, that he even though it doesn’t apply because it’s from a previous General Assembly, he’s withdrawing any motivation for that proposal.”

As for not being in total agreement with Bailey’s policies or his voting record, Catanzara said “no candidate has 100% 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.”

As for Catanzara’s own political aspirations, the union president told ABC 7’s Craig Wall he will not run for Chicago mayor and will focus his efforts on getting re-elected as FOP president.

That’s not a big surprise considering Paul Vallas is once again running. Vallas in 2020 helped consult the FOP in its police contract negotiations. And in April, FOP members rejected Catanzara’s proposal to extend his term as president from three to five years, showing there may be a struggle ahead.

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