State Rep. Jeanne Ives is doubling down in the GOP primary race for Illinois governor, defending her new campaign ad that is gathering national attention.
The City Club of Chicago hosted Ives Monday afternoon to talk fiscal and social policy at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant. Her speech was overshadowed by leftover controversy from the weekend, however, stemming from a campaign ad that critics say was sexist, transphobic and racist.
Members of her own party have asked her to take down the ad, including State. Rep. David McSweeney who says, "I do not like the Ives negative ad. Serious issues shouldn't be satirized."
Even as her bid to unseat Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary gains momentum, Ives found herself fighting to dismiss the criticism as "expected hysteria from the expected quarters." She added that the commercial had "properly and truthfully characterized the extreme issue positions Rauner took and their implications."
"The commercial does not attack people," she said, "it tackles issues."
The commercial, paid for by the Ives for Illinois Super PAC, depicts several actors thanking Rauner for bills he signed during his first term, such as one woman wearing a pink hat symbolic of the women’s marches who praised the governor "for making all Illinois families pay for my abortions."
The commercial also featured an actor who appeared to be depicting a transgender individual, who thanked Rauner for being allowed bathroom access in Illinois. That depiction has been widely decried as offensive to trans individuals, although Ives claimed "that’s exactly what typically a transgender man looks like."
Dave Lundy, a public relations specialist and frequent Chicago media commentator, criticized Ives for the portrayal he found offensive to LGBT populations.
"That was not a transgender person depicted in that ad," he said. "That was a man dressed in a dress."
Regardless of the criticism, the Ives campaign is still riding high thanks to recent political donations — this time, with generosity in the neighborhood of seven digits.
Dick Uihlein, a conservative donor who helped bankroll Alabama Republican Roy Moore in his special election bid for US Senator, dropped $2 million into the Ives campaign this week, following up on a $500,000 donation he gave last week following a forum at the Chicago Tribune.
Still, remnants the political firestorm carried over from the weekend, with the Republican Party Chair Tim Schneider calling on Ives to pull an ad that "attacks our fellow Illinoisans based on their race, gender or humanity," while a Rauner campaign spokesperson said the incident proved "how unelectable Representative Ives really is."