Gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives defends 'edgy' campaign ads: I stand by it

Gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives listens to a question from the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Monday in Crystal Lake.
Gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives listens to a question from the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Monday in Crystal Lake.

CRYSTAL LAKE – State Rep. Jeanne Ives stands behind her controversial gubernatorial campaign ads – inflaming TV spots that attack Gov. Bruce Rauner’s policies with portrayals of a transgender woman and a woman flaunting a free abortion.

One of her ads focuses on Rauner’s signing of a law allowing transgender residents to change their birth certificates – a law that could have serious ramifications, Ives said.

“You will have guys – full male anatomy – in girls’ locker rooms,” she said.

The 53-year-old West Point graduate who served in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1993 met with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board for an interview Monday and defended the ads as a precise “depiction” of the policies her rival has endorsed.

A self-described social conservative, Ives has been on the campaign trail in recent weeks claiming that Rauner has abandoned Republican principles on abortion and gender issues, and has shown he is not up to the task of leading Republican opposition to the Democratic Party’s agenda.

The candidate staunchly defended her contentious ads, which she has described as “edgy.”

“If I had just done the voice-over on that ad, nobody says anything, but the visual is what alarmed people,” Ives said. “They didn’t like seeing the visual, but the visual is important to articulate exactly what Rauner put in in terms of policy.” 

The spot features actors portraying a transgender woman, a supporter of sanctuary protection for immigrants and a woman thanking taxpayers for financing her abortion.

Ives is attacking Rauner, a first-term governor, for signing laws giving transgender residents the power to alter their birth certificates and allowing Medicaid- and state-insurance-covered abortions. The transgender law doesn’t address public restrooms.

“You can simply decide that mentally you want to be a girl and put on a dress and be a girl,” Ives said. “His policy says there’s no qualification on having done any medical intervention at all, there’s no sign-off by a medical doctor – you can one day decide that you feel like you’re a girl and put on a dress.”

Ives described Rauner’s transgender policy as “willy-nilly.”

“Before, we actually had standards in order to change the designation of your sex on a birth certificate,” Ives said. “Now there are literally no standards to do so.”

Ives’ ads also peg Rauner’s legislation in support of allowing state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions – a reversal of the first-term Republican’s stance on the proposal months earlier.

As a candidate, Rauner supported expanding coverage for abortions, but in April, he said he opposed the legislation and Illinois should focus on economic issues. Rauner later signed the bill.

“We’re going to paying for abortions on demand through all nine months of pregnancy,” Ives said.

The Wheaton conservative said viewers who were offended would have reacted differently if the commentary appeared on another medium.

“Had this been a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit about the worst Republican governor in America as deemed by the National Review online, everybody would be laughing instead of getting fidgety,” Ives said.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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