BLOOMINGTON — State Rep. Jeanne Ives said Tuesday she's not concerned about winning over those offended by a controversial TV ad she released last weekend.
"It's a 50 percent plus one race; of 800,000 primary voters, I need 400,000 plus one. Same thing in the general," said Ives, who is running in the GOP primary against incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"The purpose of that ad was to explain who Gov. (Bruce) Rauner has sided with," she said in a meeting with The Pantagraph Editorial Board.
Ives, a far-right conservative from Wheaton, said those offended by the ad, which features actors portraying a transgender woman, a gang member and a woman flaunting a free abortion, all thanking Rauner for his policies — should instead consider that they're offended by his policies.
"Everything in that ad, I have talked about in my stump speeches. ... This was a visual representation of the constituencies Gov. Rauner signed on to, of the policies," she said. "Chicago Public Schools, multi-billion dollar public utility companies. He chose adult men who say that they're women over families who care to protect the privacy rights of their daughters."
The transgender law doesn't address public restrooms, instead allowing transgender residents to change their birth certificates.
One part of the ad hit particularly close to home for Central Illinois: a rich executive representing a subsidy for Exelon. Rauner signed a bill creating up to $235 million in annual ratepayer subsidies to keep open two financially struggling nuclear power plants that employ 1,500, including many in Clinton.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider urged Ives to end the ad and apologize, and former party chairman Pat Brady tweeted, "There is no room in the Republican Party for racist, bigoted, homophobic candidates like her.” Rauner called the ad "shameful" during a Normal stop Saturday.
Ives said she wants to be the unifier that Rauner hasn't been, building coalitions to get her agenda passed. She said he "got nothing done and then only put in a progressive social agenda that is completely against our party platform."
"I genuinely like people, and I actually respect them enough to want to have conversations with them about what's going on in their lives and how we can make it better," said Ives. "I'm not the fringe candidate. Bruce Rauner is the fringe candidate. He does not comport with our values as Republicans."
Ives also promoted consolidating state universities, starting with shutting down Chicago State, and pushing universities to cut either tuition or spending and stop administrative abuses.
"Bring your spending in line" is her message to university officials.
"All you need is somebody in the bully pulpit to say, 'Stop it,' and stand up for taxpayers. Taxpayers don't trust government, and here's why," she said.
The primary election is March 20.