After months of Gov. Bruce Rauner pouring money into ads aimed at swaying Democratic primary voters against J.B. Pritzker, Democrats are returning the favor with an ad that seemingly attacks the governor’s primary challenger — but helps her get her message out.
The 30-second spot released Thursday by the Democratic Governors Association calls state Rep. Jeanne Ives “just too conservative for Illinois,” outlining her hardline stance against abortion, her A-Rating from the National Rifle Association and the likelihood that she will march “in lock-step” with President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
They’re the red-meat positions that are likely to energize Ives’ conservative base just five days out of Tuesday’s primary, feeding into a campaign narrative that has tried to paint Rauner as too liberal while riding a wave of conservative outrage over his signings of bills that protected abortion and limited local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
“Jeanne Ives wears attacks from the radical Left as badges of honor whether they come from Leftists at the DGA or the Leftist, fake Republican Bruce Rauner,” Ives campaign spokeswoman Kathleen Murphy said. “On policy, Rauner and the DGA are two sides of the same counterfeit bill.”
Ives herself released an ad last month touting herself as “the conservative reform candidate” while claiming Rauner “deserted the conservative families.”
The DGA released a companion ad Thursday attacking Rauner’s record, as part of “a significant six-figure buy” that will begin airing Friday in markets across the state, DGA spokesman Jared Leopold said. He wouldn’t comment on whether the Ives ad was a thinly veiled booster for Rauner’s challenger.
“I’ll leave that analysis to the analysts,” he said.
Rauner campaign spokesman Will Allison slammed the ads.
“Washington Democrats have teamed up with Mike Madigan’s favorite Republican Jeanne Ives because they know they can’t beat Gov. Rauner in November. Gov. Rauner’s message of growing jobs, cutting taxes, and rooting out corruption in Illinois has Democrats running scared,” Allison said.
The partisan meddling comes a day after a new poll put Ives within seven percentage points of Rauner. She claimed to be “within striking distance” during a WTTW candidate forum on Wednesday that Rauner refused to attend.
Previous polls had shown Rauner with a comfortable, double-digit lead, and the governor’s campaign for months has been looking ahead to a potential general-election matchup with Pritzker, buying airtime to hammer the billionaire over his wiretapped conversations with disgraced ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Pritzker donated $2 million to the DGA in June, when Leopold said the organization was looking “forward to going on offense this cycle, including taking on the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the country, Gov. Bruce Rauner.”