‘Repulsive’ campaign ad creates firestorm in Illinois
CHICAGO — A new ad that’s been denounced as anti-immigrant, “racist,” “sexist” and “transphobic,” is causing an uproar in Illinois, with leaders from both parties calling for its removal.
But Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives, whose campaign produced the ad in her primary election challenge to Gov. Bruce Rauner, is refusing to pull the spot, saying it exposes Rauner’s “betrayal” of GOP voters.
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The new ad mockingly thanks the governor for clearing a path in support of a series of social issues. Then it taps just about every conservative bogeyman in Illinois politics, and every lightning-rod cultural issue.
“Thank you, for signing legislation that lets me use the girl’s bathroom,” says a deep-voiced actor.
“Thank you, for making all Illinois families pay for my abortions,” says a woman wearing a pink hat symbolic of women’s marches. An African-American woman wearing a Chicago Teachers Union shirt “thanks” Rauner for purportedly making the rest of the state bail out city public schools and teachers pensions.
The ad plays off an earlier Rauner ad that his campaign ran statewide for months entitled “Thanks, Mike,” and featured GOP governors from surrounding states thanking Rauner nemesis state House Speaker Michael Madigan for “blocking Rauner’s reforms.”
Reaction to the ad was swift, with harsh criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. “This TV ad has no place in Illinois,” Rauner’s campaign spokesman Will Allison said. “It just shows how unelectable Representative Ives really is.”
Republican Party Chair Tim Schneider called on Ives to pull the ad.
“There is no place in the Illinois Republican Party for rhetoric that attacks our fellow Illinoisans based on their race, gender or humanity,” Schneider said in a statement. “Representative Ives’ campaign ad does not reflect who we are as the Party of Lincoln and as proud residents of our great and diverse state. She should pull down the ad and immediately apologize to the Illinoisans who were negatively portrayed in a cowardly attempt to stoke political division.”
Republican Attorney General Candidate Erika Harold said the ad “denigrates, mocks and marginalizes groups of Illinoisans and cannot represent our Republican Party. I call on the Ives campaign to immediately take it off the air.”
The ad created a firestorm on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend, with all three Democratic candidates for governor disparaging the ad in the strongest language — one of them referred to it as “repulsive.”
The ad proved so controversial that some Ives supporters accused a Springfield blogger, Capitol Fax, of making it up when the site first reported on the ad on Friday.
But the Ives campaign adamantly refuses to take it down, saying it was Rauner and Schneider who should apologize to Republican voters and calling the spot an “illustration” of the governor’s “real agenda.”
“His accomplishments are limited to crony bailouts and radically liberal social policies. Many found this shocking,” Ives campaign statement reads. “The truth is Governor Rauner abandoned House and Senate Republicans to advance his leftist policy agenda time and again, signing the pieces of legislation featured in Ives’ ‘Thank you, Bruce Rauner’ ad that few, if any, Republicans supported.”
Ives, once a Rauner ally, launched her candidacy last year after Rauner signed a bill that expands the public funding of abortion to those receiving Medicaid and to state workers — he had previously promised the conservative caucus he would veto it.
Rauner, a multimillionaire, has upwards of $50 million in his campaign fund and had largely ignored the little-known state legislator, calling Ives a “fringe candidate.” But Ives’ strong showing at a debate before the Chicago Tribune editorial board last week, as well as a $500,000 boost from conservative donor Dick Uihlein, has pushed her into the spotlight.
The cloud of disdain that permeates Ives’ ad represents a state Republican Party very much at war with itself. Among the most vocal against Rauner is conservative radio show host and GOP strategist Dan Proft, who defected for the Ives campaign.
Before that, Proft had worked for years with Rauner on state political races. The governor had given Proft millions of dollars to use in a political action committee as well as for the initial launch of statewide publications that reported largely pro-Rauner news. Now the publications, like Proft, have turned against the governor.
“Rep. Jeanne Ives has associated herself with questionable individuals that really don’t represent the views of the people of Illinois,” the governor told a college reporter over the weekend. He did not elaborate to whom he was referring.
Some conservatives are sticking by Ives — and the incendiary campaign ad.
“In an age of ambiguity in politics, it’s a clear, unambiguous message about what Rauner stands for,” said John McGlasson, a member of the GOP’s state central committee, in a statement released by the Ives campaign. “Everything in the video is correct.”
Advertising data indicates that Ives placed at least $1 million in TV ads for the month of February though it was unclear how much money was behind each of two spots.
On Friday, in addition to the “Thank you, Bruce Rauner,” Ives released an ad promoting her background as a conservative, West Point graduate, state representative and mother of five.
Ives tweeted Sunday that “Our new campaign ad will run during Super Bowl LII. The ad is scheduled to air at the end of the second quarter during the first break into halftime.”
February 4, 2018 at 03:25PM