SPRINGFIELD – Republican candidate for governor Jeanne Ives staunchly defended Monday her contentious campaign ad against Gov. Bruce Rauner featuring actors portraying a transgender woman and a woman flaunting a free abortion as an "accurate representation" of policies her rival has endorsed.
Agreeing that the ad launched over the weekend is "edgy," the conservative state representative from Wheaton seemed flummoxed during an appearance at the City Club of Chicago as to why anyone would call it offensive.
"What's offensive about the ad? The ad is a policy ad," Ives said. "It's accurate representation of what the policies look like on the ground. We just put it in a visual."
The spot features actors portraying a transgender woman, a supporter of sanctuary protection for immigrants, and a woman thanking taxpayers for financing her abortion.
Ives is attacking the first-term governor for signing laws allowing transgender residents to change their birth certificates, allowing Medicaid- and state-insurance-covered abortions and limiting law enforcement officers' interaction with immigrants.
The transgender law doesn't address public restrooms and the law shielding immigrants from interrogation except with a criminal warrant does not provide "sanctuary," or protection to people who came to the U.S. illegally.
"The commercial does not attack people, it tackles issues by truthfully illustrating the constituencies Rauner has chosen to serve to the exclusion of others," Ives said.
Ives said the actors, who also portray a Chicago teacher and a rich executive representing a Rauner-signed subsidy for energy giant "Exelon," ''look like" the roles they're playing. That brought heckling from the front of the room because the deep-voiced actor in a red dress has a 5 O'clock shadow. She insisted it was accurate, declaring, "I've had them show up at my door."
She did not elaborate. Advocates for LGBTQ rights, including Equality Illinois, have denounced the ad as divisive. Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider urged Ives to end the ad and apologize. Rauner said it betrayed how "unelectable" Ives is.
His campaign did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.
Rauner, a wealthy private-equity investor who has largely financed not only his campaign but the state party, has largely ignored Ives and focused on Democratic front-runner J.B. Pritzker.
But Ives gained ground in a face-to-face appearance with the governor last week before the Chicago Tribune editorial board and she announced Monday a $2 million contribution from businessman Dick Uihlein, a former Rauner contributor.
Ives did not address a $1,000 contribution she returned to a donor whose Twitter account displays Nazi sympathies. She was called out when a staffer retweeted the man's support of Ives. Ives later posted a disavowal.
She advocated not freezing the highest local property taxes in the nation, as Rauner wants, but limiting them to 1 percent as a percentage of home value, like in Indiana.
She said she would cut the state's 850 school districts in half, first by requiring each district encompass an entire school career, K-12.
And she said she would impose a cap to control spending.
"We have got to fence the Springfield spenders and the local government spenders in with a hard cap that forces hard choices," Ives said.