Illinois GOP Rep. Under Fire For Ad Mocking Transgender Community, Feminists

The Republican primary challenger in Illinois’ gubernatorial race is in hot water for a campaign ad that mocks the transgender community, Women’s March activists and immigration activists.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, who is running against Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary, released the ad Saturday in an attempt to challenge her opponent’s conservative values.

Her 30-second spot features actors outfitted to portray a transgender woman, an anti-fascist protestor wearing a hood and a bandana over his face, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union and a Women’s March activist. 

Each character mockingly thanks Rauner for enacting policies that support their supposed demographic. The ad, as the Chicago Tribune pointed out, misrepresents the effects of Rauner’s policies. 

“Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls’ bathroom,” says a transgender woman in a red dress. The bill the ad is referencing, House Bill 1785, does not mention transgender bathroom rights. Instead, the legislation allows transgender individuals to change their gender printed on birth certificates with a doctor’s approval.

The actor portraying the hooded activist thanked Rauner “for opposing law enforcement and making Illinois a sanctuary state for illegal immigrant criminals.” It was a nod to the Illinois Trust Act, a bill signed into law by Rauner in August barring local law enforcement from detaining someone based solely on their immigration status and limiting their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Another actor, a woman in a pink “pussy hat,” thanks Rauner for “making all Illinois families pay for my abortions,” referencing House Bill 40. Rauner signed HB 40 into law in September, expanding state-funded abortion coverage for women on Medicaid. 

After Ives’ ad made its rounds on the internet, advocacy groups, Republicans and Democrats lashed out against Ives, calling her video bigoted and offensive.

Equality Illinois criticized Ives for using a transgender person in the divisive ad, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“We need a governor who will stand up for all Illinoisans, not someone who will target transgender Illinoisans for their personal political benefit,” the group’s spokesman Brian Johnson told the newspaper.

Ives’ campaign did not return HuffPost’s requests for comment.

Tim Schneider, the chairman of the state’s GOP and a Rauner ally, called for Ives to pull the divisive ad and apologize to the communities it targeted.

Ives’ “campaign ad does not reflect who we are as the Party of Lincoln and as proud residents of our great and diverse state,” Schneider said in a statement. “She should pull down the ad and immediately apologize to the Illinoisans who were negatively portrayed in a cowardly attempt to stoke political division.”

Ives’ campaign later dismissed Schneider’s reaction and claimed that the state’s Republican party is an extension of Rauner’s campaign because it is entirely funded by the governor, the Associated Press reported.

“Rauner betrayed Illinois conservatives. He and his paid-for mouthpieces don’t like his betrayals being illustrated and his radical left-wing social agenda being exposed,” Ives’ spokeswoman Kathleen Murphy told AP. “Rauner is the one who owes Illinois families in general and conservatives, in particular, an apology.”

Pat Brady, the former Illinois Republican chairman, also denounced Ives, calling her “racist, bigoted and homophobic” in a tweet.

A spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy told the Chicago Sun-Times that Ives’ ad was “appalling and disrespectful to everyone who makes Illinois what it is today.”

“We already have enough hate and bigotry in the White House,” Rebecca Evans said on behalf of Kennedy. “We don’t need a governor who stands silent against Donald Trump, and we certainly don’t need a governor who echoes Donald Trump.”

Ives, who has been a state Representative since 2013, announced her bid for governor in September, in response to Rauner’s decision to sign HB 40 into law and expand state-funded abortion coverage.

In a statement released with the ad, Ives’ campaign appeared unapologetic and said that the video “represents Gov. Rauner’s chosen constituents based on the policy choices he made.”

“Those Republican primary voters who don’t know of Rauner’s betrayals of conservatives need to know. Now they will,” the statement read, according to ABC 7 Chicago.

The primary elections for Illinois’ gubernatorial race takes place on March 20. The general election will be held on Nov. 6.

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