IL Governor Rauner's conservative challenger making waves

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner may be one of the most unpopular governors within his own party in the country. This isn't surprising. Named the nation's "Worst Republican Governor" by the National Review, Rauner has betrayed his conservative base more times than can be counted.


“I crisscrossed our state, looked people in the eye, and promised to fight business as usual.” This boast came about a month after Cardinal Blase Cupich accused him of breaking his word and the Chicago Sun-Times put his picture on its front page, below a headline that shouted: “Benedict Rauner.” The governor’s offense was to have signed what may be America’s most radical abortion-funding law after vowing to veto it. The betrayal capped a season of defeats for conservatives, including an income-tax hike, a big bailout of Chicago’s public schools, and turning Illinois into what critics of illegal immigration are calling a “sanctuary state.”

The state went without a budget for two years as Democrats successfully painted his reform program as "radical." Eventually, Rauner gave in on the budget, on a school funding formula that was a giveaway to Chicago schools, and massive income tax hike. 

Every one of his 44 promises of reform died either in the Democratic legislature or in the liberal state courts. Public pension reform and reform of public unions were shot down, leaving the state with a $250 billion pension shortfall and no way to fix it.

Conservative activists started looking for a credible challenger and found one in a state House representative, Jeanne Ives. Ives is a West Point grad and has served in the legislature since 2012. Judging by this provocative and controversial ad released by Ives this weekend, conservatives chose wisely.

The ad has been called "racist,"and transphobic," "Disgusting and unacceptable" were the words used to describe it by the GOP party chairman.

That may or may not be true. We all know that charges of racism and transphobia are tossed about with ease by activsts these days. But one thing that is undeniable about the ad; it's true.

"Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girl's bathroom," says a masculine looking man in a dress. And it gets better:

ABC 7:

The ad takes Governor Bruce Rauner to task for signing House Bill 40 which provides taxpayer funded abortions to poor women and state employees. It was a bill Rauner told party conservatives last Spring he would veto.

Another portion of the ad says, "Thank you for making all Illinois families pay for my abortions."

Ives ad also attacks Rauner over the so-called Sanctuary State law he signed and over the bi-partisan school funding bill he approved that contained what critics called the "Chicago bailout."

Another part of the ad says, "Thank you Bruce Rauner for making the rest of Illinois bail out Chicago teacher pension. And for giving Rahm everything he wanted and more."

ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington said Ives is playing to discontent among many Illinois Republicans.

"This one is very edgy. She is really going for the jugular on this one, and she's going for the heart of Rauner's conservative base," Washington said. "It's going to anger voters who are upset with Bruce Rauner."

An ironic twist to the ad is that it mirrors a technique to attack Illinois Democrats used by Rauner. The Rauner ad features 4 neighboring GOP governors thanking Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan for sending business and residents their way. 

There have been precious few polls in the GOP primary race and Rauner is thought to still be far ahead. Ives has little name recognition outside of conservative activist circles. But an ad like this should improve her standing and establish her as a viable alternative to Rauner.