Election 2020

Illinois Republican Declines to Pull Ad That Angered ACLU, GOP Chairman

Illinois Republican Declines to Pull Ad That Angered ACLU, GOP Chairman
Illinois Republican candidate for governor Jeanne Ives speaks at a City Club of Chicago luncheon Feb. 5, 2018 in Chicago. (Erin Brown/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Illinois Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives has managed to anger women, Hispanics, and transgender people in only 60 seconds.

The 1987 West Point graduate has refused to back away from the one-minute TV ad in which, among other things, a man wearing a dress thanks Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Ill.) for “signing legislation that allows me to use the girls’ bathroom.”

An Ives campaign spokesman told WGN-TV Ives refused to be intimidated by Rauner and his “party mouthpieces.”

“This ad is consistent with Rauner’s character. He is an unrepentant liar. If he’ll lie to Cardinal Cupich, he’ll lie to anyone about anything,” the Ives campaign said in a statement, “And in his three years as governor, he has lied to everyone about everything.”

The Ives TV ad also showed a woman wearing a pink pussy hat, made famous by the Women’s March that followed President Trump’s inauguration, thanking Rauner for making Illinois families “pay for my abortion.”

A man in a hoodie, wearing a bandana over his face, is also seen in the ad, thanking the governor for making Illinois a “sanctuary state for immigrant criminals.”

The GOP gubernatorial primary challenger has also ticked off establishment Republicans like state party chairman Tim Schneider, who called the ad a “ cowardly attempt to stoke political division.”

“There is no place in the Illinois Republican Party for rhetoric that attacks our fellow Illinoisans based on their race, gender or humanity,” Schneider said in a statement released to the Chicago Tribune.

Illinois ACLU Executive Director Colleen Connell weighed in with a statement.

“It is sad that a candidate for the office of governor of Illinois would seek to divide voters by attacking our neighbors, friends and colleagues who are newcomers and refugees, those of a different race, those who are transgender and poor women in need of healthcare,” Connell said.

Speaking Feb 5 at the City Club of Chicago, Ives addressed the controversial campaign ad.

“So what the commercial that is generating the expected hysteria from the expected quarters attempted to do, admittedly provocatively, was to properly and truthfully characterize the extreme issue positions Rauner took and their implications,” Ives told her audience in defense of the ad.

“The commercial does not attack people, it tackles issues by truthfully illustrating the constituencies Rauner has chosen to serve to the exclusion of others,” she also said.

“As Christians, we believe every person is made in God’s image and deserving of dignity. I respect people who are different than me,” Ives continued. “I respect people who have different views than me.”

The City Club of Chicago audience responded with cheers and applause when Ives refused to stop the commercial.

“In fact, it seems that the converse is not true among many with whom I disagree. They shouldn’t be silenced but neither should I,” she said. “And I won’t be.”

State Rep. John Cabello (R) is one of 10 lawmakers who, as of Feb. 1, had either endorsed Ives or given money to her campaign.

Cabello said, in a statement issued by the Ives campaign, he was upset by Rauner’s decision to sign House Bill 40, which expanded Illinois taxpayer funding of abortions.

“When you tell someone you are not going to do something, you should stick to your word,” Cabello said. “I can’t trust any words that he (Rauner) says from here on out.”

“Republican state legislators continue to abandon Governor Rauner and his agenda,” said Ives.

Ives needs to worry now about getting Illinois Republican voters to leave Rauner’s side. A January We Ask America poll showed the incumbent governor led Ives 64.59 percent to 20.51 percent, with another 14.90 percent of voters surveyed saying they were undecided.

Nearly 14 percent of voters who are familiar with the conservative Republican, who among other issues has championed term-limiting Illinois lawmakers, have a “favorable” opinion of Ives. Only 4.51 percent said they viewed her “unfavorably.” But another 68.43 percent had never heard of Jeanne Ives.

Ives might have sharp disagreements with Gov. Rauner, and question his integrity, but the poll showed a majority — 64.71 percent of voters — view the governor “favorably.”

Ives’ campaign issued a statement in response to the poll in which a spokesman said it was not surprising that anyone who had been governor for three years would have that kind of poll numbers.

But the spokesman also said Rauner’s support among voters was an “inch deep” and “will dissipate quickly.”

Maybe the poll is wrong. FiveThirtyEight only gave We Ask America a “C” rating. Ives told her City Club audience that she does not doubt that Rauner is vulnerable.

“Rauner can walk around with ‘Governor’ sash for a little while longer,” Ives said, “but, as far as many of my colleagues are concerned, he’s already a lame duck.”