The Illinois Republican Party released a digital ad Wednesday attacking prospective Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy’s ties to House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The Illinois Republican Party’s ad praises Kennedy’s uncle, President John F. Kennedy, as a "legendary president" and lauds his father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, as a "legendary statesmen," cutting between archival footage of the revered Democrats.
The one minute spot then jumps to video of Kennedy ducking reporters after delivering a speech to the Illinois delegation at July’s Democratic National Convention. During the speech, Kennedy criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner and his turnaround agenda.
Over the course of the convention, Kennedy met with House Speaker Michael Madigan, Illinois’ Democratic Party chairman, about a prospective run. Following the meeting, Madigan called Kennedy “a very good candidate for governor."
“Chris Kennedy comes from a legendary American family with a history of public service, but instead of following in their footsteps, Chris Kennedy chose to serve corrupt politicians like Mike Madigan,” Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said in a statement.
The businessman's appearance at the DNC stoked speculation about a possible 2018 gubernatorial bid. Kennedy has reportedly been gearing up for a run, hiring staff and preparing to file papers with the state board of elections, Politico reports. According to the report, Kennedy is planning an announcement next month alongside a coalition of labor groups, ministers and businesspeople.
A spokesperson for the Chicago businessman confirmed Tuesday that Kennedy is planning an announcement in January, although details remain scarce. The source also confirmed to Ward Room that Kennedy has hired veteran political strategist Eric Adelstein.
"It's quite honestly laughable that this is the only thing that they have to attack Chris on is the fact that he didn't wanna do a media interview two and a half years out from an election," the spokesperson said.
"I think that Chris is someone to be reckoned with and clearly the Illinois Republican Party sees that," the source added.
The Kennedy spokesperson claimed the attacks look to divert attention from the recent records of Rauner and his fellow Republicans.
"They've potentially decimated the state, so this is all a distraction and trying to create some sort of narrative that is non-existant," the source told Ward Room.
According to the source, Kennedy is focused on "real issues," like cuts to social services and the state's ongoing budget impasse.
The Illinois GOP’s new web video ultimately serves as an advertisement for the party’s Boss Madigan website, which targets Illinois Democrats with ties to the powerful house speaker.
The Illnois Republican Party noted that Kennedy donated $50,000 to the Leading Illinois For Tomorrow political action committee, which has spent millions attacking Gov. Rauner. The Illinois GOP claims the PAC, which is chaired by Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss, serves as Madigan’s “political front group.”
The Illinois Republican Party has also targeted billionaire J.B. Pritzker, another prospective Democratic challenger to Rauner. The Illinois GOP has attempted to tie Pritzker to incarcerated former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Pritzker raised money for the disgraced Democrat over the course of his political career.