Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 - Kennedy responds *** Pritzker goes up with anti-Kennedy TV ad
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*** UPDATED x1 - Kennedy responds *** Pritzker goes up with anti-Kennedy TV ad

Wednesday, Feb 28, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I told subscribers that a Pritzker his on Kennedy was coming. I didn’t know what it was, however. Turns out, it’s about college tuition

* Script…

Five times. Five times Chris Kennedy voted to raise tuition as chair of the board at the University of Illinois. Kennedy’s votes drove up the cost of college nearly 30 percent for Illinois students and their families.

At the same time, Chris Kennedy voted for huge pay raises for administrators and coaches. [Overlay: Chris Kennedy approved $600,000 for university president, $1.6 million for football coach, $1.4 million for basketball coach.]

Pay raises for them, higher tuition for Illinois families. Chris Kennedy. Shouldn’t we judge him by his record?

Keep in mind that the idea here is not to knock Kennedy out, but rather to halt any surge.

*** UPDATE *** Kennedy campaign response…

According to the University of Illinois, Chris Kennedy’s leadership while Chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, “fixed tuition increases at or below the rate of inflation and precipitated a downward trend for the rate of tuition increases that continues.”

While the state failed to fully fund its obligation, leaving the University $500 million short of what it was owed from the state, Chris Kennedy’s leadership generated $100 million in new aid for students who couldn’t afford full tuition. This ad is a smear from a spiraling campaign with plummeting poll numbers that’s looking to stop Chris Kennedy’s surge among voters. JB Pritzker has opted to make false claims about Chris Kennedy to hide from his record of being caught on FBI tapes with Rod Blagojevich.

* Background info…

* It’s not true that Chris’s votes “drove up the cost of college nearly 30% for Illinois students and their families.” That 30% figure refers only to the tuition component of the cost of going to U of I. Room and board and fees are actually a bigger piece of the cost equation. The true total cost hike depends on which campus you look at. You can see his sleight of hand by comparing the language used in the narration versus the accurate “30% higher tuition” in the visual, which is what campaign do when they want to exaggerate but be able to claim they’re not lying.

* 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the compensation for the football and basketball coach was to be footed by corporate sponsors. It wasn’t coming out of kids’ tuitions or taxpayer dollars. (Moreover even the UIUC share was from athletic department “revenues.”)

* Finally, none of the votes was actually a “pay raise” in the sense of raising the pay of someone already on the job. The coaches and the president were new hires having their pay set for the first time.


  1. - Buford - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:22 pm:

    Accentuate the negative is the name of the game right now.

  2. - CatAttack - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:25 pm:

    More positive campaigning from JB…

  3. - sincere - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:26 pm:

    Exactly. If they wanted to knock him out, they likely could.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    The dishonesty of the Football and Basketball coaches’ salaries is a bit disappointing.

    The salaries of both are not paid by tuition.


    To the Ad,

    Despite the obviously inaccurate part on the coaches’ actual salaries, it should give pause just on the tuition aspect of Kennedy’s tenure, and it’s disappointing that the too easy link of higher education costs (if we’re gonna mislead in the ad anyway) and the outward migration of students.

    But, being lazy to a point, this ad works.

    I grade it a “B”

    People know about the tuition increase, maybe not the 5 combined, and it puts Kennedy on the defensive, while brole to counter it.

  5. - Responsa - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:32 pm:

    This is a reasonably fair hit and an issue that needs attention with respect to the operation of our flagship school. From reading past discussions on this blog, however, I doubt the issue resonates with sufficient numbers of Illinoisans to make much difference in this Primary election.

  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:33 pm:

    Kennedy was a disaster for the U of I. Pure and simple.

  7. - G'Kar - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    I don’t know if it was you,Rich or the Kennedy campaign that provided the background, but no one watching this is going to get into the weeds of the difference between tuition and room and board.

    Also, considering the records of the football and basketball teams in recent years, it doesn’t hurt to bring in the coaches’ salaries.

  8. - Etown - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    Would have been interesting to see how JB would have done in this race if he only spent as much as Biss and Kennedy

    I imagine polls would look a lot different but we are at a point now where those who can spend the most generally win because they can afford to attack and defend

  9. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:40 pm:

    Agree with Willy and thanks Rich for pointing out the facts where people often complain about coaching salaries at public universities. They are paid from athletic revenue, such as the something like $80m they get annually from media rights, etc. as well as donors and ticket sales. While the teams haven’t been much to write home about in recent memory, they still bring in more than enough to cover the coaching salaries. Doesn’t affect tuition one iota.

  10. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:44 pm:

    Also probably worth noting that he was appointed by and served exclusively under Gov. Quinn in that role, so if UIUC wasn’t getting enough funding there is plenty of blame to share.

  11. - Retired Educator - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:44 pm:

    Kennedy never had a chance. He tried to use the name, but doesn’t have the charisma of his father or uncle. He just doesn’t come off well in front of crowds. I don’t see him leaving the race, but I also do not see a path to victory.

  12. - Stand Tall - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:44 pm:

    Are the salaries out of line with other schools in the Big Ten? Did JB’s mentor Michael Madigan fail to fund higher education like he did for K-12. But Madigan probably had is own toilet clients to get their taxes reduced so schools received less money from property taxes.

  13. - old time golfer - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    If the athletic teams had been winners and made some bowl games or March Madness then Kennedy would look better. Just saying

  14. - Ole General - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    Dangerous ad especially in the suburbs with so many Illini there.

    Do you think fans are happy that Lovie Smith and Brad Underwood replaced the two previous coaches, even though they received higher salaries? I bet you they are.

    Alumni sport’s fandom is a tricky wire to navigate properly and this ad doesn’t do it poorly, but also doesn’t do it well.

  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    ===I imagine===

    We must all live in this world.

  16. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:48 pm:

    JB should just put out the U of I football and basketball won loss records for the time Kenedy was at Illinois. If he can’t promise a better record as governor we are all doomed

  17. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:50 pm:

    ===Michael Madigan fail to fund higher education like he did for K-12.===


    Bruce Rauner has yet to, with his own signature, fully fund higher education for one entire full fiscal year.

    Madigan, along with 10 HGOP members and 1 SGOP, and the Illinois Senate, and the Illinois House… funded higher education this fiscal year, over Rauner’s veto.

    You’re welcome.

  18. - illini - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:54 pm:

    I was wondering when, not if, CK would be hit, fairly or not, with issues from his tenure on the BOT if my Alma Mater.

    Facts, not quick campaign talking points and rhetoric, do still matter. Rich correctly points to the obvious flaws in this message.

  19. - Anon0091 - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 1:00 pm:

    Lots to mine in them U of I waters.

  20. - Bobio - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 1:02 pm:

    I don’t know? This can’t be the best they have. I learned something positive about Kennedy bv
    being part of U of I. I just thought he was the rich guy in charge of the Merc. This is a strange election.

  21. - Concerned Citizen - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 1:03 pm:

    This is a concerning trend by Pritzker to take anything that might useful to use against his opponents and to use whatever deceit it takes to make it sound as bad as possible. He did it now with Kennedy on tuitions and he’s done it before on Biss. You can’t expect a TV ad to tell the full story, but it’s a very concerning omen for the kind of politician he’ll be if elected.

  22. - Anon324 - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 1:08 pm:

    This has to be the quickest response from the Kennedy campaign to date. Regarding his tenure at U of I, this is probably the safest hit JB et al can go with. If he was really looking to bolster his Progressive bona fides, he could get into Salaita and Ayers. But Salaita would at best get as many votes as it loses, and the Ayers saga is probably not a mess worth getting into, especially if he’s considering the general election.

  23. - Ron - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 1:33 pm:

    - Stand Tall - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 12:44 pm:..

    Great and to the point post.

  24. - DarkDante - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    Good points about the coaches. Note also that the pay package for President Kileen-even with 2 $75k bonuses each of the past 2 years-is well below that of Big 10 peers.

    I’ve waffled back and forth on Kennedy, but as a UI Alum and UI employee, his record on the BoT is one of his key strengths. This ad does nothing to change this, but I am an informed party. Voters with kids looking at University offer letters may feel very differently about it.

    Good ad…?

  25. - dr. reason a, goodwin - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    Even the U of I uses some student fees and university funds to subsidize athletics, though its much smaller at Urbana than at other state schools.

  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    The better ad would’ve been…

    “Five times. Chris Kennedy, as Chairmain of the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees Kennedy raised tuition on students, forcing Illinois families to make tough choices. Only New Jersey sends more college freshman to out of state schools than Illinois, and Kennedy’s 5 tuition increases made the decision to leave Illinois for a quality education easier.

    Affordable college? Illinois is paying the price for Chris Kennedy.”

    Ask families who send their students out of state, see what they think.

  27. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 2:32 pm:

    ==Do you think fans are happy that Lovie Smith and Brad Underwood replaced the two previous coaches, even though they received higher salaries? I bet you they are.==

    OK, but they were hired after Kennedy’s tenure on the BOT…

  28. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 2:51 pm:

    Pritzker kind of exaggerated. If Kennedy wanted to vote against raising tuition it wouldn’t make a difference, its everyone else. Besides with his experience, he can learn from that to make schools affordable

  29. - Red fish blue fish - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 2:51 pm:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
    Good luck going negative on Kennedy. The guy is built of integrity. If this is the best that JB’s oppo team can come up with…

    Overall B. Somewhat persuasive albeit with misleading facts. I only got one message from the ad however. Kennedy’s still in the game and JB is sweating.

  30. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 3:31 pm:

    Strongly agree with OW and others that the hit on the athletic salaries is flat-out wrong.

    However, the $620,000 for the goofball from Connecticut (Joseph Hogan) is a fair hit, along with all the tuition increases. There’s plenty more in CK’s UI tenure to hit if JB chooses, but this quick but deceptive shot may be enough in their minds.

  31. - Anon0091 - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    “The better ad would’ve been…

    “Five times. Chris Kennedy, as Chairmain of the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees Kennedy raised tuition on students, forcing Illinois families to make tough choices. Only New Jersey sends more college freshman to out of state schools than Illinois, and Kennedy’s 5 tuition increases made the decision to leave Illinois for a quality education easier.

    Affordable college? Illinois is paying the price for Chris Kennedy.”

    That’s some good stuff there Willy.

    And Red Fish, the best ad against Kennedy (as Rich has written) is to use his own words of Rauner-love against him. This was just a brushback pitch.

  32. - Shemp - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 5:13 pm:

    Saw the ad on tv over lunch. All it got from me was a giant eye roll. Almost as dumb as Rauner portraying Ives as Madigan’s bff.

  33. - Jibba - Wednesday, Feb 28, 18 @ 7:42 pm:

    UI athletics revenues do not cover Athletic Department expenditures, so it is a stretch to say that demands on state funds are not increased by these raises unless additional funds were brought in solely for the salaries that would not have arrived otherwise.

  34. - Thomas Zane Stepp - Thursday, Mar 1, 18 @ 6:04 am:

    This is almost as ridiculous as the “breakfast in schools” ad where he takes credit for changing the law.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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