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Attack ads come on strong in final week
Strong statements hit the airwaves over Senate, governor primary races
By Joseph Ryan | Politics and Projects Editor

Andy McKenna

 

Associated Press

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Published: 1/27/2010 12:56 PM | Updated: 1/27/2010 12:58 PM

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As the final week of aggressive campaigning for two top ticket races gets under way, new TV ads have been unleashed aimed at undermining support for candidates in the Senate and governor primaries.

Former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna released an ad this weekend taking a new dig at challengers state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan.

The ad blasts Dillard for supporting vehicle fee and liquor tax increases back in 1999 as part of a plan for a multibillion public works expansion promised to create jobs and rebuild Illinois' infrastructure. It also accuses Ryan of being in favor of tax hikes.

Both are aimed at undermining the candidates in a seven-way Republican primary where candidates are all striving to distinguish themselves from Democrat Comptroller Dan Hynes and Gov. Pat Quinn, who are pushing tax hikes.

McKenna has pumped more than $1.8 million of his own cash in the campaign and raised an additional $2 million, blowing his competitors away in the drive to raise campaign cash to spend on such commercials. Dillard has raised about $1.5 million and Ryan about half a million dollars.

Ryan has stepped up his attacks on McKenna on the campaign trail, alleging he is "buying this election."

And in the Democratic race for Senate, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman let loose with another attack ad on Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Hoffman had previously gone after Giannoulias' handing of college savings programs in his office, a charge the treasurer rejects, pointing to high ratings for the funds.

Now Hoffman is trying to tie convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko to Giannoulias, because the major Rod Blagojevich fundraiser took out a large loan at the Chicago Democrat's family bank.

Giannoulias responded in kind Monday, putting up an ad denouncing Hoffman's attacks.

"His negative ads won't solve problems or create jobs," the voice-over tells viewers.

The ad promotes Giannoulias as the first candidate in "Illinois history" to not take corporate money or donations from federal lobbyists. But in fact, Hoffman and Chicago attorney Jacob Meister have made similar pledges.

Former Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson and Burr Ridge radiologist Robert Marshall are also running in the Senate Democratic primary to replace incumbent Roland Burris, who was appointed last year to replace Barack Obama.

The other candidates in the Republican race for governor include state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, Chicago conservative commentator Dan Proft and Hinsdale businessman Adam Andrzejewski. DuPage County Chairman Bob Schillerstrom of Naperville has dropped out of the race, but his name remains on the ballot.

The primary is Feb. 2 and early voting continues until Thursday.

Breaking down the ads

New attack ads are out in both the race for Senate and governor in the last week of the primary campaign. Here is a look at what you need to know about them:

Republican governor

Andy McKenna's ad against state Sen. Kirk Dillard and former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan.

What the ad says:

"Kirk Dillard appeared in a TV ad supporting Barack Obama for president."

What else you should know:

Dillard did appear in an ad early in the presidential primary. In the ad, he said Obama's "negotiation skills and ability to understand both sides would serve the country very well." He also said "Republican legislators respected Barack Obama." Dillard says he cut the ad because it was true.

But he has since called Obama's plans in the White House "socialist." Dillard didn't support Obama's presidential campaign. Dillard helped raise money for John McCain's Illinois operation and served as a McCain delegate to the Republican National Convention.

What the ad says:

"Dillard voted to raise taxes, asking 'What's the big deal?'"

What else you should know:

The ad cites Dillard's vote in 1999 for raising license plate fees $30 and liquor taxes by 6 cents per six pack and 50 cents for hard liquor to fund a multi-billion-dollar public works package under Gov. George Ryan. The quote is in reference to Dillard's response to questions about whether it was a tough vote. He said it wasn't. License plate fees had not been raised since the mid-1980s and liquor taxes had been unchanged for decades.

What the ad says:

"Jim Ryan supported raising taxes by $5 billion."

What else you should know:

Ryan has in the past voiced support for a 'tax swap,' raising income tax rates on companies and workers while providing property tax relief for homeowners that would be aimed at reducing the school funding reliance on local property values. However, he has said in this campaign he would not support that move if elected. Ryan has pushed forward plans to dramatically cut the state's budget to solve a looming financial crisis. He has not ruled out a tax increase if the economy recovers and spending cuts don't work.

Democratic Senate

Former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman's ad against Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias

What the ad says:

"(Giannoulias) was chief loan officer when his family's bank gave a million dollars to Blagojevich crony and convicted felon Tony Rezko, then let Rezko bounce a half million in checks."

What else you should know:

The loan was taken out by Rezko before any of his legal troubles. Giannoulias has said Rezko was never a campaign donor or fundraiser for him.

The details of the check bouncing came to light from a lawsuit filed by Las Vegas casinos against Rezko during his corruption trial. The complaint alleged the checks were drawn on Rezko's account at the Giannoulias bank, but there was no allegation the treasurer "let" Rezko bounce the checks.

Giannoulias no longer holds a position at his family's Chicago bank.