Union-backed, anti-Rauner PAC pulls plug on new TV attack ads

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The union-backed political-action committee that has spent $3.19 million in television advertising attacking Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Bruce Rauner announced Tuesday it’s going dark between now and election day.

“We are not going to buy new ads. We’re not cancelling ads we’ve already purchased,” said Mike Murray, a spokesman for Illinois Freedom PAC. “We raised Bruce Rauner’s negatives, and we feel like we accomplished that goal of letting people know who the real Bruce Rauner is.”

The PAC, which started airing its ads three weeks ago, insisted the move was not because Rauner hasn’t been dislodged from the No. 1 perch in the four-way GOP field in several successive polls.

The group has aired ads highlighting Rauner’s links to a series of deaths of elderly Florida women, who lived in nursing homes once operated by his former Chicago investment company.

One of the surviving children of those women told the Chicago Sun-Times that he had been contacted about appearing in a possible television ad buy against Rauner, but that ad never materialized.

Prior to the nursing home ads, the group paid for a commercial that showcased Rauner’s links to convicted influence peddler Stuart Levine, an imprisoned appointee of impeached, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“We wanted to highlight some issues with Bruce Rauner that the middle-class families of Illinois needed to be made aware of,” Murray said.

He cited a surge by state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, in a Sunday Chicago Tribune poll and “Rauner’s reaction” as proof “we did just that.”

“Now that we have achieved that goal, and all the top candidates are on the air, it’s up to the campaigns to make their final case,” Murray said.

A spokesman for Rauner’s campaign declined comment on the PAC’s decision to go dark.

“Nah, will take a pass,” a Rauner spokesman responded when asked about Illinois Freedom’s move.

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