Illinois Republicans still attacking their own in website left over from primary
More than three weeks after the March 20 primary, a political website attacking the Republican primary candidate for the 56th House District, Jillian Rose Bernas, is still up.
The website, madigansfavoriterepublicans.com, was paid for by the House Republican Organization (HRO), the political arm of the Republican caucus.
The site makes unsubstantiated claims that Bernas is little more than a lackey for House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). The caucus targeted Bernas during the primary because she ran against handpicked candidate Charlotte Kegarise, who ended up losing by a wide margin.
Bernas said that she had asked the HRO to take the site down and will ask again after being alerted that it’s still up.
“I hope that this is just carelessness on their part,” she said.
The site and a series of mailers linking Bernas to Madigan first appeared in February. One of the mailers depicted Bernas as a puppet on strings with Madigan as the marionette. Kegarise claimed she had no prior knowledge of the mailers or the website.
Bernas said that the seat, now held by four-term Democrat Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg, has been identified by the caucus as being winnable.
“It’s time for all of us to come together and win this thing,” she said.
The 56th District includes Schaumburg and parts of Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Roselle.
HRO made similar moves in other races against primary candidates not handpicked by leadership to run for the seat. One site targeting Xenia Republican Darren Bailey, who defeated incumbent Republican David Reis in the 109th House district primary, was only taken down within this past week. The site, democratdarren.com, depicted Bailey wearing a crown with a caption calling him a “Corporate Welfare King.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner also used a similar campaign tactic against his primary opponent, Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). Rauner took remarks Ives made about Madigan during a sit-down before the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board and in some last minute campaign ads made it appear as though Ives was an ally of Madigan.
Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) said that politics was a “rough and tumble” business, but that the Rauner ads were the most egregious examples of deception he’s ever seen.
“This does not bode well for future elections,” Morrison said. “Voters will have to dig a little deeper on the issues from now on and not just go by what they hear from the candidates.”