CHICAGO, Illinois — Conservative State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) defended her new advertisement in her campaign for governor against incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner on Monday a before a packed luncheon at the City Club of Chicago.
Over Super Bowl LII weekend, establishment Republicans attacked Ives for airing a commercial that criticizes policies that Gov. Rauner signed into law over the past four years.
The ad features actors portraying different people Rauner is alleged to have helped, such as a crony capitalist, a radical activist wearing a “pussyhat,” a member of the Chicago Teachers Union, and — most controversial of all — a man dressed as a woman who claims to be transgender.
The ad landed Ives on the front page of local newspapers — an unusual amount of attention for a candidate who had previously struggled to build her name recognition statewide.
Tim Schneider, the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, called for Ives to pull the ad, stating: “There is no place in the Illinois Republican Party for rhetoric that attacks our fellow Illinoisans based on their race, gender, or humanity.” He went further, saying she should “immediately apologize to the Illinoisans who were negatively portrayed in a cowardly attempt to stoke political division.”
Ives responded at the City Club Monday before a large audience and a gaggle of press outlets. Ives — a three-term State Representative from Wheaton, a mother of five, and an economics graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point– stood firm: “The ad is about policy, not people. As Christians we believe every person is made in God’s image and deserving of dignity. I respect people who are different than me. I respect people who have different views than me. In fact, it seems the converse is not true among many with whom I disagree. They shouldn’t be silenced. And neither should I. And I won’t be.”
Shortly thereafter, Ives received a standing ovation (fast-forward to 27:21).
Ives asked what people found offensive about the ad. There was silence. She asked again.
“What’s so offensive about the ad? The ad is a policy ad, that’s what it is. It’s an accurate depiction of the policies Rauner put into place. I talked about it on the stump, my literature has all these issues laid out there. The fact that you saw a visual representation of the policies he put in place is maybe considered offensive. I don’t understand that.
“The fat cat Exelon guy—that’s exactly who you bail out,” she continued. “The teacher from Chicago public schools—that’s whose pension you just paid out.”
When someone from the audience — an adviser to Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner J.B. Pritzker — challenged her on the transgender character in the ad, Ives responded: “Here’s the deal: that’s an accurate representation of what the policies look like. We just put it in a visual.”
Those policies include five controversial pieces of legislation Gov. Rauner signed into law. House Bill (HB40) forces taxpayers to pay for abortions of state employees for up to 9 months; House Bill 1785 (HB1785) mandates the state change birth certificates for transgender people; Senate Bill 31 (SB31) effectively makes Illinois a sanctuary state for illegal aliens; Senate Bill 1947 (SB1947) bails out the bankrupt Chicago Public Schools system; and Senate Bill 2814 (SB2814) bails out the Exelon power company and gives residents a $300 rate hike. (Ives wrote about the power company bailout here.)
While attacks from Democrats are not a surprise (multimillionaire Democrat candidate JB Pritzker called the ad “poison”), a hateful tweet from former establishment Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady attacked Ives as being “racist, bigoted, homophobic” and claimed, “we are better than @JeanneIves.”
Yet grassroots conservatives across the state rallied to Ives.
Yvonne Sencial Bolton, a conservative activist who chairs of the Illinois Republican National Hispanic Assembly — and who is also a legal immigrant from Guatemala — agreed that the ad was effective.
“The ad was truthful, plain and simple. Sometimes the truth is painful and hard to swallow, but it’s truth nonetheless,” she told Breitbart News.
On Chicago talk radio’s popular morning drive program, The Answer 560AM-WIND, callers from across the state defended Ives and the ad.
A woman named Pat from Lockport, Illinois, said: “I think that ad is absolutely 100% spot on. There is not one lie in that ad. People need to know the truth about Rauner: a spineless liar. His own constituency is against him and the guy is too damned dumb to realize it.”
A man named Tom from Schaumburg, Illinois, said: “When I saw the ad it warmed my heart to the point where I picked up the computer and went on her website and hit the red button where it said ‘donate.’ I’m not only gonna vote for her, I’m gonna send her some of my money because she’s the real deal.”
Talk radio host Dan Proft outlined the merits of the ad, and the policy positions it highlights (emphasis added):
Time after time Rauner has betrayed and ridiculed the party platform positions of the Republican party. Sancturary state: only six of 73 Republicans in the General Assembly voted for it, Jeanne Ives voted no, Rauner signed it; HB40: zero of 73 Republicans in the General Assembly voted for taxpayer funding of abortion all nine months, Rauner signed it. Transgender birth certificate / bathroom bill: only six of 73 Republicans in the Gen Assembly voted for it, Jeanne voted no, Rauner signed it; Exelon bailout: only 24 of 73 Republican legislators voted for it, Jeanne voted no, Rauner signed it. Supermajorities of Republican legislators reprensenting supermajorities of Republican primary voters opposed this agenda and Rauner threw in with the cultural Marxists and social warriors.
At the City Club, Ives reinforced the clear choice between her and Rauner, whom she actually supported in 2014 when he first ran: “I am a cultural conservative. And a cultural conservative who supported Bruce Rauner as my party’s nominee in 2014. I continued to support him in the first part of his term as he was pursuing some of his component parts of his ‘turnaround agenda,’ however ineptly.
“I believed him when he said he had no social issues agenda. Three years later, we have found out that’s all Bruce Rauner had. Rauner has signed legislation into law so extreme that Democrats didn’t even attempt to move it under Gov. Quinn with supermajorities in both chambers. I know because I was there.
“Rauner’s extreme-left social agenda,” Ives continued, “combined with his crony bailouts, are not reflective of majority Republicans in Illinois, and in many instances are at odds with the party platform, and in some cases are at odds with Illinoisans generally.”
“The focus of my time as a state legislator has been on economic issues and structural reform in state government. Check out the bills I have filed and the arguments I have made,” she concluded.
After the City Club event, Ives faced a throng of journalists shouting questions. There, she confirmed that businessman Dick Uiehlein had donated $2 million to her campaign — a huge boost to help win the primary.
Follow Jasmine Hauser on Twitter @hispanicmom.