Incumbent Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner thought his primary win was already in the bag, and fully intended to ignore State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), his conservative primary opponent.
But lately Ives has been landing blow after blow, and now Rauner has been forced to begin paying attention to an opponent he thought he could safely ignore.
Last weekend, Ives debuted an ad that slammed Rauner for breaking nearly every single promise he made to the state’s Republican voters when he first ran for office four years ago.
Ives’s attention-getting ad slapped Rauner for helping the left-wing, Democrat-controlled Chicago Teacher’s Union; ribbed him for pushing policies that aid the “pussyhat-wearing” liberals in the state; and kicked him for supporting transgender policies in public schools.
The satirical TV ad was edgy enough to force the Chicago-dominated state media to pay some attention to Ives. But her hard-hitting issues also forced Gov. Rauner to re-tool his campaign strategy and waste his own time and money replying to her charges.
Rauner rushed to TV with an ad accusing his primary opponent of taking money from the State’s powerhouse Democrat leader, House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), and claimed she voted against property tax exemptions..
The Ives campaign replied to the Rauner’s ad, calling its accusations nothing but “lies.”
Ives points out that in their first meeting before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, Rauner bragged about playing golf with Democrat majority leader Madigan, and insisted he knows Madigan very well.
In a statement, Ives added:
This ad is consistent with Rauner’s character. He is an unrepentant liar. If he’ll lie to Cardinal Cupich [about vetoing a pro-abortion bill he later signed], he’ll lie to anyone about anything. And in his three years as Governor, he has lied to everyone about everything.
As State Representative and House Republican Floor Leader Peter Breen (R-Lombard) said after the last of Rauner’s many betrayals, HB 40, “Rauner’s promises were just flat out lies.”
As Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) said, “Rauner has been completely ineffective – other than the TV ads and press releases he hides behind – in attempting to actually pass something. He could be the most ineffective politician in the country.”
The Democrat Governors Association also took the occasion of Rauner’s ad against Ives to kick the governor while he’s down.
Noting that Rauner thought “it was never supposed to get this far,” the DGA crowed that “Rauner now finds himself wasting time and resources running ads in a Republican primary.”
The DGA pointedly added:
“Thanks in part to Rauner’s unpopularity and ineptitude, Ives has kept rolling along. She racked up endorsements from numerous sitting legislators and county parties. She absolutely walloped Rauner in their only debate together. And Ives received $2.5 million from a Midwestern mega-donor that used to be a strong Rauner ally.”
Rauner is counting on the state’s Republican establishment, and his own wealth, to bail him out. On Monday, Rauner clinched the endorsement of the Cook County Republican Party — the county the Democrat-dominated City of Chicago calls home.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.