RFK or Rauner? Pritzker and Kennedy TV ads push different takes on Chris Kennedy

SHARE RFK or Rauner? Pritzker and Kennedy TV ads push different takes on Chris Kennedy

Left to right: Robert F. Kennedy at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Sun-Times File Photo; Actor Martin Sheen in an undated publicity shot from “The West Wing.” AP File Photo; Gov. Bruce Rauner talks to reporters on Monday. File Photo. Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

As the Democratic race for governor enters its final week, Chris Kennedy launched a TV ad Tuesday featuring actor Martin Sheen and images of Kennedy’s father, Robert F. Kennedy.

But as Democratic voters make up their minds, primary rival J.B. Pritzker wants them to think Bruce Rauner, not RFK or TV President Josiah Bartlet, when they think of Kennedy.

Pritzker launched a new competing TV ad that hounds Kennedy for once praising the Republican governor.

The dueling ads come just a week before the primary — and after a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll showed Kennedy trailing Pritzker 35 percent to 16 percent. Daniel Biss came in third with 15 percent.

The Pritzker ad, dubbed “Applaud,” once again uses Kennedy own words against him:

“Bruce Rauner is trying to do what he thinks is best for the state of Illinois,” Kennedy says in the spot. “His willingness to speak truth to power, to take on the powers that have been strangling our economy for decades in this state is something that I think he should be applauded for. ”

“Don’t we need a Democrat who can stand up to Bruce Rauner?” a narrator asks.

RELATED: Chicago Sun-Times 2018 Illinois Primary Voting Guide Family becomes fodder in Dem gov race as Kennedy questions Pritzker’s upbringing

Kennedy, in January, opined that Rauner “should be applauded” for running attack ads against Pritzker before the Democratic primary. But then he took a step further in his praise for the embattled governor.

Kennedy’s campaign has fought off those words for months. In the days following his remarks — which drew sharp criticism from Pritzker, Biss and others — Kennedy stressed that he’s been “an absolute critic” of Rauner and called him “reprehensible” for tossing people out of government programs.

“We are running a positive campaign while J.B. Pritzker continues to run a negative campaign,” Kennedy spokeswoman Rebecca Evans said on Tuesday. “Chris has said repeatedly that Bruce Rauner threw a million people out of social services. That means he is inhumane. He went two years without a budget. That means he’s incompetent. He is running to defeat Bruce Rauner and his awful leadership.”

Kennedy’s campaign released its TV ad — narrated by Sheen, who played a fictional president on “The West Wing.” The same ad was released last week, without the famous voice behind it. It features a clip of Kennedy’s father, Robert F. Kennedy, and an emphasis on Kennedy’s endorsements and “values.”

“Chris Kennedy’s father fought for civil rights, equality and fairness,” Sheen says in the ad. “Today the fight lives on in Chris’s campaign for governor. To take on a broken political system. Endorsed by newspapers across the state as authentic and independent, Kennedy will be an anti-establishment governor with a progressive agenda. And the vision to reshape Illinois.”

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