Pritzker, Lightfoot attacked by Illinois gubernatorial candidates in first TV ads

Two Republican candidates for Illinois governor unveiled their first television commercials of the 2022 campaign on Tuesday, hitting the dominant issue so far: the rising rate of violent crime across the state.

As Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin's campaign aired their first TV ad, a Springfield-based news site reported on an Irvin fundraising email that attacked Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot by name a dozen times, while mentioning the man he seeks to unseat, Gov. JB Pritzker, just once.

The apparent goal: contrasting 2020s riots and looting in Chicago with what Irvin did in Aurora.


"Aurora will be ready for you, if you come to our community wreaking havoc," Irvin stated in the ad. "We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. We will not put up with this BS and foolishness…this, I guarantee."

Republican primary candidate Gary Rabine called Irvin’s tough-on-crime campaign a sham, promising to provide details on violent crime in Aurora during Irvin’s two terms as mayor.

"His crime rates are not good. His carjacking rates and murders are not a lot and maybe even worse than Chicago. So, I mean, I don't see that as a crime fighter," Rabine said.

The north suburban paving contractor also asserted Irvin is not a "true Republican."

Eleni Demertzis, spokeswoman for the Irvin campaign, responded by pointing to 2021 when the City of Aurora reported a decline in violent crime.

"Under Richard's leadership, Aurora hired more cops, lowered crime, and defeated the local defund the police agenda which is why Wallethub rated Aurora the sixth-safest large city in America in June 2021."

In a separate listing last October, Wallethub ranked Aurora 25th safest while Chicago ranked 114th out of 182 cities.

A spokesman for Jesse Sullivan, another Republican running for governor, sent FOX 32 an email claiming violent crime in Aurora rose by nearly 28% from 2017 to 2020 when Irvin was mayor.

Sullivan also unveiled his first TV ad Tuesday. Like the Irvin spot, it focused on crime, but zeroed in on Chicago. Sullivan appeared to have recorded his parts of the commercial on the streets of Chicago, blaming Democratic incumbent Pritzker.

"Pritzker’s leftist agenda is literally killing us, turning parts of Illinois into a war zone. But I’ve got a plan. Defend our police, not defund them. Take the cuffs off our cops and put them back on criminals. My name's Jesse Sullivan, candidate for governor. Join me. Let's save Illinois," Sullivan’s campaign ad states.

While Sullivan’s ad named Pritzker, Irvin’s ad did not. And an Irvin fundraising email first reported on by the news site Capitol Fax, used the governor’s name only once.

But Irvin’s email invoked Lightfoot's name a dozen times, claiming, "Lori Lightfoot wants us to ignore the carnage…in Chicago." The email even suggested playing a role in next winter’s Chicago mayoral election, writing, "it’s time we put an end to Lori Lightfoot styled government."

FOX 32 asked a spokesman for Lightfoot if she had a response to the Republican attacks, but the mayor's office has not yet responded.

Last month, Lightfoot's campaign did email supporters, ripping Sullivan as "ignorant" for comparing the bloodshed he saw in Afghanistan when working for the military to what's happening in Chicago.

As Irvin's political rivals continue to hit his record as mayor of Aurora, look for him to respond that violent crime in Aurora actually did decline last year, in contrast to Chicago, where shootings and killings were at a nearly three-decade high.