Pritzker and Madigan ‘get married’ in new controversial Rauner ad
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Democrat J.B. Pritzker and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan get married in the latest TV ad for Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign, in perhaps the bluntest way to tie the two together.
It also ends with an officiant finalizing the union with profanity.
And not all are pleased by the parody wedding.
The 30-second ad called “Unholy Union” features a wedding scene with Pritzker and Madigan as the two grooms.
“Repeat after me. I, Mike Madigan, take you, J.B. Pritzker, as my unlawful partner in destruction, to raise property taxes, corrupt government, and bankrupt Illinois’ future,” an officiant says.
Pritzker then vows to “honor and obey” Madigan.
The ceremony – and ad — ends with the officiant pronouncing Illinois “f—–.”
“By the power vested in me, I now pronounce Illinois [bleeped],” the officiant says. The profanity is beeped, but it’s clear what word the actor is using.
The Rauner campaign said the ad “highlights the devastating results of giving J.B. Pritzker and Mike Madigan total control of Illinois.”
Pritzker’s campaign said Rauner is “choosing to end his campaign by blaming others for his own failures.”
“After four years of seeing their governor more interested in affairs with special interests, badmouthing his own state and refusing to compromise, the people of Illinois are looking forward to their divorce from Bruce Rauner being finalized on November 6th,” Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in a statement.
Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Illinoisans, said Rauner “should be ashamed of using the LGBTQ community for comedic value to make a political hit.”
“Our weddings are not a joke,” Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson said in a statement. “Gov. Rauner does not represent Illinois’ values with this ad.”
Johnson, too, said he is “deeply disappointed” by the ad “that mocks marriage quality by tying two of his opponents together in a parody wedding.”
In July, Rauner received praise from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Equality Illinois after he officiated a same-sex wedding in Chicago. But the picture, posted on one of the grooms’ Instagram accounts, prompted outrage from some on the far right.
The ad could serve to anger some of the state’s most conservative voters, and Rauner is still trying to pick up the pieces left after a splintered March primary saw him win by just four points.
Brian Gaines, a political science professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign called the ad a form of “swinging for the fence.”
“Bruce Rauner is behind and has to try higher-risk messages to shake voters out of their routines [or normal voting plans],” Gaines said. “Obscenities, even bleeped out, will bother some viewers, but they also draw attention.”
Gaines said the ad follows the same message Rauner has been sending for years — that Madigan is controlling the state. But Gaines said he didn’t believe the ad should be attacked for being anti-same-sex marriage.
“Such a response would seem willfully misleading to me,” Gaines said. “I don’t think there’s much he can do to catch up so late in the race, but I can’t really fault the effort.”
Appearing on the Big John and Ramblin’ Ray show on WLS-AM 890 on Tuesday morning, Rauner was asked whether the ad was made by his campaign or an “outside group.”
“I’d have to check,” Rauner said. “I’m not even sure.”
Still, referencing Madigan and Pritzker, Rauner said, “Oh my goodness, we’re so abused if those two guys go in there.”
Rauner later defended the ad after an event at Chicago Hope Academy, 2189 W. Bowler St., where he ended his visit by praying with students. But the governor declined to repeat the swear word himself, opting to substitute “screwed.”
“I can say very clearly that Pritzker in office with Madigan, the people of Illinois are abused, or screwed, to use that word. I’ll use that word,” the governor said, predicting “massive tax hikes, massive increases in corruption and massive job losses.”
He also denied the commercial has an anti-gay message, saying he supports same sex marriage and has been “very supportive of the LGBTQ community as governor.”
Contributing: Mark Brown