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*** UPDATED x1 *** Prepare for return fire

Monday, Jun 29, 2020

* I know we’ve discussed this topic before, but it’s now become my weekly syndicated newspaper column

Illinois Rising Action, a dark money super PAC, is running a TV ad against Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The group reportedly is putting $1 million behind the spot on both cable and broadcast over two weeks.

Called “Failed,” the ad heaps criticism on the governor for the “toilet scandal,” increased gas taxes, increased taxes on cars and allegedly giving a “huge” pay raise “to his politician buddies.” It also goes after his administration’s response to massive unemployment. The ad is appearing on broadcast and cable TV in Chicago, Champaign/Springfield and in Paducah, Kentucky.

A million bucks isn’t a lot of money in the TV world, but it’s not nothing, either. And since he began running for governor, Pritzker has never allowed an attack ad to go unchallenged and never allowed himself to be outspent.

As I write this, no response ads are airing, but I think it’s safe to say the governor will respond, and will also up the ante in the process. How much is anyone’s guess, but it’ll likely be substantial.

Illinois Rising Action has issued numerous press releases since early March. The group’s hits on the governor have rarely been mentioned by the media, perhaps because some of the attacks have been a bit of a stretch.

For instance, the organization, which does not have to reveal its funding sources, has pointed out that an investment group the governor founded with his brother backed a company that won a $13 million federal contract to develop a test for COVID-19. The story was covered by Fox News, but didn’t gain much traction beyond anti-testing social media paranoids.

Pritzker has put all of his investments into a blind trust. Besides that, the company has no state contracts and, frankly, developing a new federally funded test isn’t exactly the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard.

The organization also attempted to connect the dots between Pritzker’s “toilet” scandal and the massive federal effort to convert McCormick Place into an acute alternate care facility.

The contractor, Bulley & Andrews, was the master contractor for Pritzker’s spare mansion rehab, which blew up in his face when it was discovered that toilets were removed in order to reduce the property taxes on his vacant house. The McCormick Place contract, however, was let by the United States Department of Defense, not the State of Illinois. According to the Department of Defense, 18 firms bid on the $9 million contract.

Nonetheless, “A pattern is beginning to emerge of vendors with close ties to Governor Pritzker being awarded coronavirus related contracts,” the group recently claimed.

Bulley & Andrews is one of the oldest contracting firms in Chicago.

The governor has blamed the group for privately dishing to reporters that his wife and daughter were in Florida and that his family had visited their Wisconsin horse farm. Pritzker has said his wife and kid were in Florida before the first stay-at-home order was issued and that he owns a “working” farm in Wisconsin, so travel to it would be covered by his order.

Both stories visibly angered the governor — a guy who rarely shows that side of himself in public (or in private, for that matter). He claimed at one point that the “GOP super PAC” was “putting my family and my children in danger.”

Illinois Rising is run by a former Mark Kirk/Bruce Rauner operative who also consults for the firm running the opposition to the governor’s “Fair Tax” (some of whom also worked for Rauner before “the purge”). The idea, apparently, is to rough up the governor, and then the group working against the “Fair Tax” will build on that work to try and prevent it from passing. To succeed, the constitutional amendment needs the votes of either 60 percent plus one of those who cast ballots for or against the amendment, or over half of all votes cast in the entire election. The opposition doesn’t have to necessarily win in order to prevail.

A response ad is therefore a bit tricky. If this were only about Pritzker, his advertising team would just kneecap the Republican Party, a not-so-popular entity in this state. But this fight is ultimately about the progressive income tax proposal. So, in order to succeed, Fair Tax proponents will likely need some Republican or GOP-leaning votes.

All we can do now is sit back and wait to see how the Pritzker people thread that needle and track how much they spend.

Hey, at least it’s something to occupy ourselves with while the world burns.

Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** And here it comes…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments
  1. - 32nd warder - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 9:43 am:

    there are many things I can criticize the governor and this administration of, but most of that is inside baseball. Lets just say that you cannot expect a lot of follow up on important issues when the governor is a billionaire and he pays his top staff another salary on top of their state salary from his own pocket. Its also apparently a lot to ask this governor and his top staff to provide oversight of key agencies when his long term goal could include a white house run. he doesn’t want to own the bad stuff, so he lets the agencies take all of those hits. He has also allowed these agencies to handle all of their own hiring, which has let to fiefdoms not loyal to the governor, and operating as they please. BUT, the governor has done an outstanding job handling the corona virus! He has over communicated, he has been clear about what Illinoisans must do to remain safe and to return to somewhat of a normal life. he has been a national leader on this front, and his efforts have produced results. I give him an A+ on his crisis management, and we are lucky that he was in charge during this time, and not Rauner. Keep up the good work, governor. Democrats, be wary of what the billionaire will leave behind when he leaves. Your organization has been weakened, and you will suffer a more mild case of what republicans have experienced after Rauner’s departure.


  2. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 9:45 am:

    I wish some group(s) would run adds -about- anonymous campaign ads. Sort of a PSA that would mock all those “concerned voices” (regardless of their ideology) and for people to suspect that any such groups/ads are up to no good. I know, common sense tells you as much, but they wouldn’t keep running these ads if they didn’t have evidence they were effective, would they?


  3. - efudd - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 9:50 am:

    A million dollars.
    That’s adorable.


  4. - Huh? - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 9:58 am:

    “they wouldn’t keep running these ads if they didn’t have evidence they were effective, would they?”

    They have to preach to the choir somehow.


  5. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 10:11 am:

    This coincides with my new nickname for the governor.


  6. - Terry Salad - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 10:13 am:

    I’ve got several “friends” on Facebook who constantly post “articles” on Pritzker supposedly making bank on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic via investments in pharmaceutical companies. These also happen to be the same friends who constantly post articles that tell me gargling with vinegar or diluted bleach will kill COVID-19 virus and that wearing a mask leads to lung infections or harm from reduced airflow. Sigh.


  7. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 10:30 am:

    Anti-Pritzker people must not have anything other than regurgitating the failures of the 2018 campaign.


  8. - Jocko - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 10:50 am:

    ==A million dollars. That’s adorable.==

    Keep in mind a lot of that money went for string to connect the dots.


  9. - City Zen - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 10:59 am:

    ==in order to succeed, Fair Tax proponents will likely need some Republican or GOP-leaning votes==

    They should be more concerned about losing suburban Dems.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:02 am:

    Just an aside… but for perspective;

    Pritzker spent over $300K for 400+ days.

    If any fool thinks that $1 million buy won’t be responded to hasn’t been paying attention.

    Just keep those things in mind


  11. - Back to the Future - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 11:04 am:

    Pritzker does seem to be easy tempered which is a big plus in today’s political landscape. He did seem a bit irritated about the family focused stuff, but really that kind of attack approach on anyone’s family was off base and he handled the situation as well as should be expected.
    The ad campaign itself is what people with money to waste (and I think these Ads are a waste of money) get talked into by consultants and pollsters. While I know I am dating myself, the old approach of just reading the headlines every day and addressing what is in the news is what was usually done this early in a campaign- - and it worked. You can always get free advice and ideas from consultants wanting your business in late August. In the past the best ideas were early and free.


  12. - M - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 2:01 pm:

    The ad in being aired in MO too.


  13. - PublicServant - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 2:02 pm:

    Pritzker is a leader. His actions as governor are popular for all Illinoisians, except the Rauner diehards that tried to wreck this state, and dark money (from Bruce, the Kochs and Uhlein) are still hiding, just like they hid behind the unfair flat tax for oh so many years. The progressive fair tax amendment will fix all that. I’d expect those not making over $300,000/yr in both the city and suburbs to support it, as well as a majority of those making more. We’ll go after dark money groups next, because they’re definitely not good for democracy.


  14. - Mama - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 2:14 pm:

    - Terry Salad - Monday, Jun 29, 20 @ 10:13 am:-
    You need new friends. :)


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