Illinois state Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry)
Illinois freshmen state Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) thinks the time has come for voters to establish guidelines about what is considered acceptable behavior in political campaigns.
“I think that’s a public discussion that needs to occur,” Wilcox told the McHenry Times. “If it involves the candidate themselves, I would hope that the electorate sees that more negatively. It’s an unfortunate thing and I think the public is all too accepting of it. I would love to be part of a solution that figures out how do you get the public outrage over these type of events.”
With the 2020 state primaries five months away, the issue is already front and center in Illinois after 6th District Republican primary Jeanne Ives accused the campaign of former challenger Evelyn Sanguinetti of bankrolling a so-called “push poll” to cast her in a false light, including claims that she is the “favorite Republican” of longtime Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Sixth District Republican primary challenger Evelyn Sanguinetti | www.illinois.gov
Such tactics are nothing new to Ives as the same type of poll, defined as one where negative information is provided about the candidate not favored by the group paying for the survey just before the person being surveyed is asked which candidate they prefer, was used against her during her run against then-Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner during their 2018 GOP primary battle.
Sanguinetti, who served as Rauner’s lieutenant governor, was on the ticket seeking re-election.
“The challenge here is how do you respond when politicians play the dirty side of politics,” Wilcox said. “I’m going to say we see it at the national level and it was something I was concerned about even when I ran for county board.”
In the Ives’ poll, there were at least three push-poll questions directly comparing the two candidates, including assertions that Sanguinetti “spent 10 years fighting Mike Madigan,” while Ives is his “favorite Republican,” and literature about how Sanguinetti, as a first-generation American whose family fled Castro’s Cuba, “opposes AOC (Sen. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez) and the Squad.”
Again, Wilcox said he would like to see voters serve as judge and jury when it comes to such disputes.
“I think that would be the most effective way,” he said. “You could always try to legislate the issue or try an ethics test, but I think that would be preferable. As long as candidates learn that it’s still effective and the public will respond to it, it will continue to happen.”
Sanguinetti dropped out of the congressional race on Friday.
"Although I firmly believe that I can and will win the nomination if I stayed in the race, the question in my mind is at what cost,” she said in a statement. “There has been enough destruction in the Republican Party from past election cycles and I choose not to contribute further to it by engaging in a costly and negative campaign against my opponents.”
Ives is set to battle Dr. Jay Kinzler in the Republican primary for the right to take on Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) in the general election.