February 5, 2018 – When we interviewed Rep Ives last week, she said when she started the race she had no funds, but decided to announce her quest for governor based on trust that in time the money would come in.
Well it has. And what was a trickle has turned into a flood. Just prior to our interview with Rep Ives last week, she had raised about $500,000. Then she announced that businessman, Dick Uihlien had then stepped up to give her a donation of $500,000 to bring her funding up to $1,000,000 or so.
Still a faction of what Gov Rauner has in his campaign chest, but enough for Ives to not only keep going, but to begin to plan a media buy.
But Uihlein wasn’t done. On Sunday night, the Ives campaign issued a press release [ see below] that Uihlein is donating $2,000,000 to her campaign for governor.
The real interest in Ives campaign took off when she appeared with the governor before the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune, to answer questions on policy issues. While not billed as a “debate” it turned into more of a real debate than most of the staged events organized for television.
The overwhelming reaction to that event, was that Ives “crushed” the governor. Commentators and columnists noted her ability to articulate a message to Repubican voters as to how she differed with the governor, her knowledge of issues, and how she would govern if elected. In the wake of that event, interest in the Ives campaign took off, and suddenly the idea that she could actually beat the governor for the Republican nomination seemed plausible.
Now late Sunday evening, while most people were watching the Super Bowl, the Ives camp put out a press release that says Dick Uihlein is stepping up his donations to her campaign, as it continues to be embraced by Republican voters and organizations around the state
Ives Press release: “The Ives for Illinois campaign is pleased to announce it has received a $2 million donation from businessman Dick Uihlein. These funds will support and ensure that Jeanne Ives is able to introduce herself to the GOP primary electorate and present a clear choice for those voters between the crony bailouts and extreme Left social policy agenda of Gov. Rauner’s and the conservative reform policy record and vision of Ives.”
The $2,000,000 donation also follows the production of a campaign commercial produced by the Ives campaign that was highly critical of the governor’s positions on various social issues. While many on the left, and those supporting the governor were highly critical of the Ives camp for producing that commercial — with some calling it racist, and mean spirited as it poked fun at the governor’s support of a liberal social agenda.
Yet, it’ possible that THAT was what spurred Uihlein to raise his support, as he is a social conservative, who once supported Gov Rauner.
With her online donations and other funds raised, this means that the campaign that was given little hope of achieving anything of note last October when she announced, has now raised more than $3.5 million in a few short weeks of her insurgent campaign against Gov. Rauner.
“Mr. Uihlein’s commitment to a conservative reform policy revolution is humbling as is the commitment of of every donor and volunteer to our campaign,” said Ives.
“People doing what they can with what they have is how we win this race for the people who play by the rules and do their part to make Illinois a great place to live, work and raise a family. A state government aligned with their interests is long overdue in Illinois.”
While $3.5 million is still a small fraction of the funds available to the governor, Ives does not have to match him dollar for dollar to be competitive. Within the Republican party of Illinois, many former supporters of the governor have turned on him, after he signed into law a bill that allows taxpayer funds to go toward funding abortions, and another bill that Republicans say makes Illinois a “sanctuary state.”
As a consequence, many Republican voters say it won’t matter to them how many commercials Bruce Rauner puts on television, they won’t support him. Dick Uihlein is one of them. One of Ives biggest challenges is raising her profile to those Republican voters who have yet to focus on her primary challenge. Her funds now allow for her to get her message out — particulary in radio ads, that cost a fraction of television.
Social media is also playing its part in leveling the playing field between Ives and the governor. The Ives campaign continues to get supporters to use platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to spread the word about her campaign, which costs little to nothing compared to what it costs to run ads on television across the state.
What is now clear, is that the Ives campaign, which was given little respect, and no hope of success among the professional campaign consultants, when she began last October, is now a growing threat to Gov Rauner’s effort to become the Republican nominee for a second term.
Electability has become one of the issues between Ives and Rauner. Ives and her supporters say Rauner has so turned off the Republican base, that even if he were to win the nomination, so many Republicans would not vote in November, that he cannot win re-election. They also say that Rauner as the head of the ticket, would hurt many candidates down ballot, if Republican voters then decide not to go to the polls.
While Ives gains traction wooing the conservative voters in the Republican party, the Governor’s campaign makes the point that she is indeed more conservative on social issues. But they counter, that Illinois, as a largely Democratic state, is not about to elect a social conservative as governor in November.
Many political veterans of Illinois politics say Ives IS too conservative to be elected statewide. But in her interview with the Illinois Channel, Ives counters that every family — Democrat and Republican, is being damaged by the high property taxes, and lack of economic growth in the state. She argues this election is more about turning Illinois around economically, than it is about social issues, which are often decided at the national level.
The Illinois primary election is March 20, 2018.