A “shock and awe,” anti-Bruce Rauner campaign that is promising to turn the tide in the gubernatorial primary has officially launched with a full color, 12-page, tabloid-styled pamphlet hitting half a million Illinois Republican households beginning this weekend.
And on Sunday, a separate TV ad campaign bankrolled by a coalition of unions opposing Rauner will begin to launch.
Laid out in an oversized, 11-by-17 format, the newspaper-styled mailer is an extensive trashing of the Republican front-runner in the four-way GOP primary, attacking Rauner’s pro-choice stance and calling Rauner’s wife “radically pro-abortion.”
Calling the wealthy venture capitalist “the insider’s insider,” the ad trots out Rauner’s weaknesses — from his ties to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to his hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to
Democrats to his flip-flopping on the minimum wage to clouting his daughter into a Chicago public high school.
“This is the opening salvo to what is going to be a shock and awe campaign,” Steven Shearer told the Sun-Times on Friday.
Shearer, a Republican who is behind the ad’s production, said he wasn’t going to attack Rauner “on the sneak” and charged that it was Rauner who has had a history of doing that. Rauner has denied that.
The ad takes on Rauner’s position that likens his backing of Democrats to Ronald Reagan working with Tip O’Neill to get the job done.
“Unlike Bruce Rauner and Rahm Emanuel — President Reagan did not help finance Tip O’Neill’s campaigns, help him make $18 million in two and a half years in the private sector, raise money for his inauguration, serve as Tip O’Neill’s closest advisor or vacation together. Ever.”
The ad declares: “Bruce Rauner: You’re No Ronald Reagan.”
The high-quality ad is the first meaningful ad attack against Rauner, who has so far vastly outraised his three opponents. The ad encourages Republicans to vote for any of the three other contenders in the race – state senators Bill Brady of Bloomington and Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
The ads will begin to hit just as Rutherford’s own ads begin. Rutherford’s campaign this week announced it was launching the first phase of its TV ads. Rutherford’s ads will remain positive.
The ads launched by Shearer’s group – as well as another union group, will go on the attack.
Neither Brady nor Dillard so far have raised enough money to go up on TV.
A separate attack includes the beginning of what is to be a more than $2 million TV spot to debut Sunday. A coalition of public sector unions poured money into an Illinois PAC to help pay for the launch.
The primary is March 18.
Since December, Rauner has dominated the airwaves with his “shake up Springfield,” ads. In them, he has waged war on “government union bosses.”
The fact that a Republican is behind the ad will give it more credence with Republican voters than if unions had sponsored it. Shearer said no Democrats have funded his effort and so far he’s gotten money only from the Operating Engineers Local 150, and said 42 percent of its members pull GOP ballots.
Shearer is the chairman of the Republican Fund for Progress & Jobs, a committee set up to combat Rauner’s candidacy. He is the former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and has accused Rauner in the past for running attack ads against Schock when the Republican congressman was mulling a gubernatorial run.
“This goes to every single Republican who has a propensity to vote in a Republican primary. It shoots with a rifle not a shotgun,” Shearer said. “It puts the whole case against Rauner into the hands of the people.”
“I have enormous faith in Republican voters that once they know all the facts will do the right thing,” Shearer said.
The mailer received some backlash after the Sun-Times posted the first glimpse of it late Friday. Shearer, however, said he’s won dozens of Republican races using the same strategy. That includes the state and congressional races for Schock, the congressional races for former U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger – both Illinois Republicans.
“Primary voters especially are thirsty for substance. When it’s thoughtful and it’s smart and funny they will spend a lot of time on it,” Shearer said. “Seniors will read it three times over and memorize it. It’s devastatingly effective.”