SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) – He’s running for the highest seat in Illinois government, but Republican candidate Darren Bailey said he’d be powerless to change abortion laws if elected.

 “Nothing’s going to change when I’m governor. I couldn’t change them if I could [sic],” Bailey said at the debate Thursday night.

Anti-abortion groups have backed Bailey since the primary. His apparent sidestep of the issue Thursday did not shake their faith in their candidate.

“Bailey is unapologetically pro-life and he will work to undo some of the extremism that we have in our state right now.” Amy Gehrke, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life said.

Bailey blamed the likely Democratic supermajority in the legislature for his inability to pass any laws about abortion access. He also did not answer if he would support abortions in cases of rape or incest.

His answer on the debate stage was in stark contrast to several beliefs from anti-abortion groups, past comments and views. His campaign called for the end of taxpayer-funded abortions.

“As a man of faith, Darren is proudly pro-life and will always stand up to protect the rights of the unborn,” his campaign website reads.

Bailey was also harsher in the primary against abortion, and received endorsements from Illinois Family Action and the Illinois Federation for Right to Life in the six-person Republican primary.

“If elected, I’m going to work to make sure abortion becomes unnecessary day one,” he said at a campaign event the day before the primary in June.

According to political science professor emeritus Kent Redfield, Bailey is pivoting his stance to try to attract more moderate voters.