Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is stepping up his efforts to influence the Democratic governor campaign, purchasing statewide TV time to air a 15-minute ad featuring secretly recorded FBI conversations between then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and businessman J.B. Pritzker, who is now a leading Democratic governor candidate.
Despite the much-hyped nature of Rauner’s move, his campaign is spending only about $11,900 to run it on six TV stations this weekend, said a media analyst who was not authorized to speak publicly about political ad buys. That’s a pittance compared to the $1 million a week Rauner and Pritzker each have spent at times to run political commercials across Illinois.
Rauner, however, is getting plenty of bang for his buck through the media coverage his unorthodox strategy is attracting. It’s unusual in Illinois for a candidate in one party to go to such lengths to try to steer the direction of the other political party’s primary campaign, and it’s rare to air a 15-minute ad. But Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor from Winnetka, has the money to do so.
Except during major sporting events or stuff like that, weekend TV ads are pretty cheap.
In response to the new ad, Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen said: “Hundreds of people spoke to the governor at the time and whether Bruce Rauner chooses to buy a 60-second or even a 14-minute negative ad, the fact is JB Pritzker was accused of no wrongdoing. Bruce Rauner is desperately trying to interfere in the Democratic primary because he can’t defend his failed record and because he doesn’t want to face JB Pritzker in November.”
Though it had been known that Pritzker was one of the people Blagojevich considered for the Senate vacancy, the wiretaps showed Pritzker asked Blagojevich to appoint him as state treasurer instead.
“What you will not hear,” the latest ad intones, “is Pritzker rule out an appointment.”
The recordings had been obtained by the Chicago Tribune, which didn’t say how it obtained them.
* From the RGA…
Illinois Democrat candidate for governor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune J.B. Pritzker is facing embarrassing coverage over his weak response to his conduct on FBI wiretaps of conversations between himself and disgraced ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Pritzker was pressed hard by local media yesterday on his refusal to explain or even apologize for his actions on the tapes.
ABC 7 Chicago, Illinois’ most-watched television station, showed Pritzker’s weak response on camera last night, during which Pritzker would say that “Governor Blagojevich spoke with hundreds of people at that time, and bottom line is I was never accused of any wrongdoing.”
Governor Bruce Rauner blasted Pritzker’s response, “That shows how pathetic our system is, how broken. Anyone who would use an excuse, and say, well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing, but I didn’t go to jail. So it’s okay. Are you kidding me?”
Even fellow Democrats slammed Pritzker over the tapes. State Senator Daniel Biss called him a “flawed” candidate and declared that nominating him would be a “risk” for the Democrats. Chris Kennedy went further, saying that Pritzker is “the poster child for everything Republicans say is wrong about Democratic politicians.”
That J.B. Pritzker doesn’t seem to understand why engaging in pay-to-pay politics with the convicted Rod Blagojevich demonstrates exactly why he lacks the character and integrity to hold elected office.
* The Channel 7 piece was really rough. Here’s the video. Watch it all…
J.B. Pritzker is facing brutal press following yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times editorial board forum after refusing to call for Mike Madigan’s resignation or show remorse for his conduct on the Blagojevich FBI wiretaps. Pritzker was given multiple opportunities to distance himself from both controversial politicians. Instead, he chose to dodge and hedge in a transparent attempt to avoid casting blame on his longtime political allies and take responsibility for his actions.
Following the forum, NBC Chicago reported that Pritzker “will not speak critically of Madigan or Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.” Watch here.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times write-up of the forum focused on Pritzker’s ties to disgraced Governor Rod Blaogjevich.
“Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, has been hit hard as of late by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign over FBI wiretaps of Pritzker’s conversations with now imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.”
Pritzker was asked at the forum whether he had “close ties” to Blagojevich. Pritzker dodged that question, instead only saying that he regretted “the tone of portions of that conversation.” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown labeled Pritzker’s response a “limited” and “fuzzy defense,” calling the FBI tapes a “significant problem for Pritzker.”
“To the extent Pritzker ‘rebuffed’ Blagojevich, he did so rather gently, leading to the particularly unbecoming ‘I’d do it’ segment being used in the Rauner television commercials.”
J.B. Pritzker’s ties to Mike Madigan and Rod Blagojevich represent an existential threat to his candidacy.
…Adding… Rauner campaign…
Yesterday, Citizens for Rauner launched an extended television ad featuring the full, unedited FBI wiretap capturing the quid pro quo discussion between JB Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich. State and national media reported on the ad, describing it as “full throttle,” “taking off the gloves,” and “unprecedented.”
ABC 7: “Governor Bruce Rauner taking off the gloves in his attacks on chief Democratic rival, JB Pritzker. In fact, this weekend, the governor will be begin airing a 14-minute long commercial of a conversation between Pritzker and convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich.”
Chicago Sun-Times: “The latest ad — 14 minutes long — features what it says is the entire 11-minute chat Pritzker and Blagojevich had. This ad’s introduction notes that after the earlier commercial, ‘Pritzker didn’t deny the conversation — he complained what was released wasn’t the full conversation.’ In the latest volley, the campaign now is promising the ‘full, unedited, original wiretap recordings.’”
NBC 5: “This lengthy, unprecedented ad will play the FBI tapes of the phone call between JB Pritzker and disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich. … Governor Rauner defends the ad as a chance for the voters to hear the unedited version for themselves.”
Politico: “Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign is dipping deep into the campaign warchest for this one. After billionaire Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker complained that a new TV ad featured a “selectively edited” recording of a 2008 conversation between Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich, Rauner’s campaign decided to go full throttle. This weekend, the Rauner campaign bought airtime to play all 11 minutes of the FBI wiretap conversation between Pritzker and Blagojevich. The ad will appear in all major media markets in the state on Saturday and Sunday, according to the campaign.”
Associated Press: “Rauner’s campaign says the move is a response to Pritzker’s statements that an ad released last week was selectively edited. That ad included a portion of audio captured on FBI wiretaps in which Blagojevich and Pritzker discuss the possibility of Blagojevich appointing Pritzker attorney general. Pritzker is heard saying, ‘That’s a deal I would take.’ … ‘J.B. Pritzker is part of the corruption and cronyism that has plagued Illinois for decades,’ the Rauner campaign said in a statement. ‘The people of Illinois deserve better.’”
National Journal: “What to do with $55.6 million in the bank for your reelection bid? If you’re Illinois Governor @BruceRauner, you air a 14-MINUTE TV AD showing your likely Democratic opponent on an FBI wiretap with Blago.”
CBS 2: “Rauner, who seeks re-election and may face Pritzker in a general election, counters: ‘Anyone who would use an excuse and say, ‘Well, I did something immoral, unethical, disgusting and self-dealing but I didn’t go to jail, so it’s OK.’ Ae you kidding me?’ Pritzker tried to brush off the recorded wheeling and dealing.
‘At no time in that conversation did I do anything that is anything other than trying to do public service to make the state better,’ he says. Not so, say his Democratic opponents. ‘It just shows what a risk it would be for the Democratic Party to nominate a flawed candidate like J.B. Pritzker,’ Daniel Biss says. Chris Kennedy adds: ‘Who’s going to want to turn out, who’s going to want to work, who’s going to want to do the extra things needed to vote for somebody who’s playing footsie with Rod Blagojevich?’”
“Rauner’s campaign is dipping deep into the campaign warchest for this one.” Right. I think Rauner’s campaign is gonna pay a price for encouraging some reporters to write or convey such nonsense.
It has been alleged that before the last election Rauner was behind the dark money that helped to derail two potential rivals–Schock and Rutherford. Is this simply another effort to derail a candidate in advance, but this time, since it is the other party, in the light of day?
If you add in the cost of making the video, the cost of running it on TV, and factor in the ginning up of this issue as a pivot point, this is a genius move, done cheaply, to put out a video no one is going to spend 14 minutes to watch, but the talking about it has hit national news, like Meet The Press Daily, for example.
It was smart to do this, like this, with low costs, but lots of earned media.
Reading Ms. Slayen’s remarks reminds me of remarks…
I guess the real question is Rauner is still upside down, worst Republican Governor in America, below 80% Republican support in a Primary, are people going to just ignore how Rauner failed…
… by a recording that the US Attorney’s Office has inquired how it was released when it was suppose be under seal?
It was a “gentle” rebuff, but at the same time it was a rebuff. JB refused to bribe Blago. Sure I’d have more respect for him if he had done something about it, if he had tried to go to the police or something, but he drew a line while trying not to make the Governor of his state an enemy. I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone says, but I seem to be the minority.
So it’s a jumped-up press release to get talking about the tapes ’cause they didn’t the first time. OK. From my vantage point, it does seem like more people are talking. But it’s still not making JB break his stride.
Smart move on Rauner’s part. Get’s people talking for a drop in the bucket. I’d get used to this. The only hope that Rauner has is if he can get Pritzker’s negatives to exceed his own. Tough road but when you have scant accomplishments to run on that’s what you’ve got to do. I’m not sure to what extent this will hurt Pritzker in the primary. If anything it reinforces the notion that he’s the presumptive nominee. Particularly since the message of this being “immoral, unethical, disgusting, and self-dealing” is being delivered by Rauner.
“Who is going to sit through that whole commercial? It is boring.”
Almost no one will actually listen to the entire ad; but the media buzz that is being created can’t be denied. Rauner is using a unique platform to exploit an obvious weakness in JB. It is very damaging to JB when the message picked up by Joe/Jill voter is that JB was caught speaking about crooked political appointments to a lowlife like Blago on an FBI wiretap. This issue may or may not not fade quickly, but it likely be re-hashed in the general.
Rauner is taking a page out of the Trump playbook: Label your opponent early on and try your best to get it to stick. “Crooked Hillary” was their war cry in 2016; I’d suspect Rauner’s folks will try something in the same vein.
JB’s team has been pretty solid about responding to this though… This general election is going to be interesting.
This is definitely an ingenious (ploy) being executed to darn near perfection. The question will be is the timing as ingenious as this process?
Would love to know precisely why this bomb is being dropped right now. It’s tremors won’t last until the general. It won’t be as effective in a repeat down the road, so some objective is being met now. Would love to know what the Rauner team thinks it is.