No, you didn’t travel back in time to just before the November midterm election. But that is a partisan political ad you might be seeing on TV.

Is it a victory lap or a way to rehabilitate an unpopular leader’s image? Either way, there are more political ads on TV despite the midterm election two months in the rearview mirror.

The 30 second TV spot from Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is also the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, features a narrator saying “they tried to take your health care away” with images of President Donald Trump on TV screens.

The voice then says, “they even failed to act as our veterans died,” a veiled reference to outgoing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s handling of the Illinois’ legionnaires outbreak that killed elderly veterans.

In the November midterm election, Democrats gained more seats in the statehouse and ousted the incumbent Republican governor on a wave of anti-Trump sentiment.

The ad says “it’s a new day in Illinois with an agenda to put families first again.” The add says that agenda includes a fight for affordable health care, equal pay for women, and higher taxes on higher earners.

It then ends with Madigan wrapping things up.

“In the fights that lie ahead, Democrats are on your side,” Madigan said.

The add gives no mention to the state’s property taxes that are among the highest in the nation, the record-levels of public pension debt north of $130 billion, the state's worst-in-the-nation credit rating, and continued out-migration leading the nation, all things that have accumulated and culminated while Madigan has been speaker of the House for all but two years since 1983.

Early last year, a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Poll found Madigan had a 68 percent disapproval rating statewide.

After seeing the ad on ABC 7 Chicago’s airwaves, Orland Hills resident Susan Greve posted to the TV station’s Facebook page “Just saw your Mike Madigan commercial about how Illinois Democrats are for Illinois citizens? REALLY? Mad Mike Madigan? Come on ABC!”

Oak Lawn resident Marjean Hawkins replied she “nearly spit out my coffee” after viewing the ad.

Kristen Wiley, who is organizing a “Middle Class March” outside of Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker’s inauguration in Springfield next week said the ad is out of touch.

“Making Madigan the last shot in this ad is completely tone deaf to people who believe in term limits, and would like to see him out of office,” Wiley said. “That was completely off-putting. Democrats know that 45,000 residents left Illinois last year, and that number will grow this year if they can't keep their hands out of our pockets.”

She said Democrats are trying to rehab their image.

“They've been trying to sell taxing the upper-middle class and the rich in order to pay down the debts in this state and they’ve failed miserably at it for decades,” Wiley said.

Illinois Republican Party spokesman Aaron DeGroot said everyone knows “Madigan and the politicians he controls are not on their side.” He said in response to the ad that Democrats “have hiked taxes, racked up debt and destroyed jobs, pushing Illinois to the brink.”

While Wiley agrees with the Republican statement, she think Republicans have been rendered powerless, and she’s not the only one who thinks that.

“I’ve talked to Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians that all plan to attend [her march], and they all feel that way,” Wiley said.

One thing Democrats are expected to push for that Wiley is hoping her march pushes against is an increase in the state’s gas tax.

Messages seeking comment from Madigan's spokesman were not returned. 


Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.