Once again, Bruce Rauner’s campaign is proving the political value of having very deep pockets.
Less than a day after a third-party group started airing attack ads aimed at his candidacy for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, the wealthy Winnetka businessman has a response ad of his own up and running.
A group known as Illinois Freedom Pac began running the ad yesterday, tying Rauner to convicted political fixer Stuart Levine. The TV spots are part of a long expected attempt by third-party groups to weigh in on the Republican gubernatorial primary, a move Rauner’s camp has both decried and attempted to link to his other primary challengers.
Rauner’s response calls the effort by Illinois Freedom PAC, which is funded in part by a $500,000 contribution from the AFSCME public sector union, a “false attack” from “Pat Quinn’s allies and Springfield insiders.”
Throughout the campaign Rauner has had to address charges he profited from connections to Levine, who was on the payroll of a company partially owned by Mr. Rauner's firm, as part of an investment deal between Rauner’s company and the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois.
Rumors have long circulated that powerful third-party groups were going to begin attacks on Rauner’s front-runner status, although yesterday’s ads were the first concrete sign of what they would look like. The fact that Rauner is able to respond as quickly as he has highlight the real divide between him and his Republican primary challengers, including state senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
While Rutherford has had enough fundraising success in the campaign to afford TV, neither Brady nor Dillard can claim the same capacity. Rutherford, of course, is embroiled in a harassment lawsuit with a former employee.