While fact checkers dig through financial filings, voting records and the claims shot back and forth between candidates in political ads for statewide office, one thing is for sure, there’s more to come.
Expect to see negative ads up to election day.
Voters got a breather after March where in the run up to the primary election the airwaves were flooded with political ads from all sides. Some got higher marks for accuracy than others. Incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is independently wealthy, ran ads saying his Republican primary challenger Jeanne Ives was House Speaker Michael Madigan’s favored candidate. Ives said Rauner’s ads were full of lies.
Democrats challenging eventual Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker, who is also independently wealthy, used what money they had in the primary to blast Pritzker. With months to go before the November election, Rauner has turned those Democrat’s words back against Pritzker, even though all those candidates have since endorsed Pritzker.
Rauner has for months been hitting Pritzker for taking toilets out of a spare mansion to get a property tax break, and aired FBI wiretap recordings between Pritzker and now imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Pritzker’s latest ads say Rauner hasn’t “given any thought” to the illegal immigrant child separation policy dominating national headlines. Rauner has publicly denounced the practice. The Pritzker ad also claims that Rauner is the owner of a company that gets millions to keep kids from their parents.
Rauner’s campaign said Pritzker is “peddling lies.”
“Pritzker’s latest ad intentionally misrepresents the facts of an unsubstantiated story to weave a false and deceitful narrative,” Rauner campaign spokesman Alex Browning said. “The Pritzker campaign should immediately take down this dishonest and shameful ad.”
The State Journal-Register reported the Pritzker campaign stands by the ad.
Comments Pritzker’s campaign shared with Illinois News Network late Thursday doubled down on the ad.
“The fact is, Democrats and Republicans across the country immediately spoke out against Donald Trump’s inhumane policy, with governors of both parties even going so far as to recall their National Guard troops from the border or say they will not send them,” Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen said in an email, “but Bruce Rauner was too busy applauding Trump that he hadn’t given it ‘any thought’. Now, we learn that Rauner is an owner of a company that has been paid to help keep children separated from their families. That’s disgraceful and disgusting.”
University of Illinois political science professor Christopher Mooney said most people who follow politics know what’s happening on a national level. Fewer follow state politics. That’s one reason negative political ads work.
“You know, ‘that guy’s an S.O.B. because he tried to rip off the taxes and this guy is trying to hurt immigrants at the border,’ stuff like that,” Mooney said. “You sort of feel it, but you don’t think about it too much.”
If a candidate wants to take legal action to correct a blatant lie, Mooney said it’s usually too little, too late.
“To really stop that you’d have to be pretty blatant and you’d have to go to court and that takes time and the ad is up in the meantime,” Mooney said. “Or sometimes you get it throw up right before the elections before there’s time to do anything about it.”
For the Illinois governor’s race, Mooney said the two major party candidates have “more money than they know what to do with,” so expect to get berated with negative ads, no matter the cost.
“You got 10 media markets,” Mooney said. “You’ve got to advertise in St. Louis, you got to advertise in Paducah (Kentucky) so you’re wasting a ton of money because you’re advertising to people out of state.”
Mooney said Rauner has a record Pritzker will pick apart and Rauner will have to respond by defining Pritzker a certain way.
“Because it’s all negative, because they don’t have positive stuff to say about themselves and the negative stuff fits more, we’re going to get pounded and pounded and pounded with negative ads for the next five months,” Mooney said.
That will be a lot of ad revenue for media outlets.
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform already puts total raised funds between Rauner and Pritzker at more than $180 million and it’s expected to be the most expensive governor’s race in U.S. history.