CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is denouncing an independent campaign commercial that blames him for the rise in violent crime since he took office.
His Republican challenger, State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), fired back that Pritzker is being divisive.
The widely seen ad features surveillance-camera footage of a group attacking a lone woman on a street in the North Side Lake View neighborhood. There is no narration, just the victim’s blood-chilling screams as at least three people knock her to the ground and attack her.
On Monday, Pritzker claimed the spot produced by a PAC called "People who Play by the Rules" uses intentional, racial imagery.
"It's a terrible commercial," Pritzker said. "They've chosen a particular crime in which there was a white woman who was the victim and apparently black perpetrators. That's the ad they want people to see, particularly in the suburbs."
Dan Proft, an AM-560 talk radio host and founder of the PAC responsible for the ad, rejects accusations of racism. While the PAC is independent of Republican Darren Bailey's campaign for governor, Pritzker sought to link Bailey to the commercial.
"Darren Bailey sanctions these kinds of ads," Pritzker told a Loop news conference. "(He) thinks they're ok, has accepted the support of that PAC."
Bailey then responded.
"This man has divided our state from day one. And he continues to do that by calling anything that he sees a problem as ‘racial.’ I think that's absolutely appalling," Bailey said.
"Most of the people who are murdered -- they are Black. And what's Gov. Pritzker, what's Lori Lightfoot, what's Kim Foxx doing about that? They're doing absolutely nothing," Bailey added.
Running parallel to the controversy about the ad is a serious policy debate about a law called the SAFE-T Act, which abolishes cash bail as of January 2023.
Even some top Democrats concede privately they'd like to amend ambiguous language dealing with exactly when judges will be able to detain violent offenders.