Davis, party debut negative ads
CHAMPAIGN — The 13th Congressional District race slipped into more mudslinging Monday with the debut of two negative ads by groups associated with Republican congressional candidate Rodney Davis.
The television spots, running on Champaign television stations WCIA and WICD, come from the National Republican Campaign Committee and from the GOP candidate's own campaign, Rodney Davis for Congress.
The NRCC spot is the larger commercial buy, worth $24,713 at WCIA, according to station records. The Davis campaign spot is for 43 spots at a cost of $15,800. Both campaigns made slightly larger purchases at WICD and its sister station in Springfield, WICS.
The spots from the NRCC and Davis come on the heels of attacks ads directed at Davis by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on behalf of David Gill, the Democratic candidate who is an emergency room physician in Bloomington.
The NRCC ad includes video from an apparently old interview with Gill in which he states, "Medicare would no longer exist." An announcer then adds, "David Gill. His plan would end Medicare."
But Gill spokesman Tom Alte said he was "fairly certain the statement was taken out of context."
"Doctor Gill does not want to end Medicare. He wants to strengthen Medicare. I'm fairly certain that's what he is talking about in the video and that he's just being taken out of context."
The other ad, by the Davis campaign, begins, "David Gill's special interest DC friends have been caught running false, negative ads. The truth is, David Gill wants to raise taxes and supports Obamacare."
But the Gill campaign says the Democrat supports tax increases only on the wealthy, and would oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act although he has stated he would not have voted for it.
"It's an important step in health care reform. But if he had been in Congress when the bill was presented, he has said that he would not have voted for it," Alte said. "It's a handout to the insurance companies. But the good things that are in there now, Doctor Gill has said warrant keeping it in place."
Gill "believes we need to make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. They've had their tax rates ratcheted back for years now and now that we're in this fiscal situation if we want to responsibly pay down the debt it's going to take some belt-tightening but it's also going to take raised revenues."
But not from the lower and middle class, according to Alte.
"Doctor Gill has always said that the tax cuts that are in place for the middle class and the lower class need to be kept that way and the millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share and help get us out of this deficit," he said.
Spokesman Patrick Pfingsten said the Davis campaign has not gone negative.
"We have continually made this a campaign about issues. Discussing David Gill's radical positions on government-run health care and to hear, in his own words, that he would end Medicare as we know it is necessary to inform voters how out of step David Gill is on the issues," Pfingsten said. "Gill's radical position on eliminating Medicare is only the tip of the iceberg and he has proven time and again he is too extreme for the families in the 13th District."
A news release from the Illinois Republican Party asserted that the Gill campaign is in "disarray" because campaign manager Michael Richards stepped down last week and that the candidate is "staying underground."
"That couldn't be further from the truth," Alte said. "Mike (Richards) has a lot of obligations with his own (Champaign County Board) race, as well as other clients in Champaign so he resigned to be able to commit full-time to those races and to allow us to commit full-time to this campaign," Alte said.
Richards is a candidate in County Board District 8 with fellow Democrat Giraldo Rosales. There is a single Republican, Sher Hampel, running for one of the two available seats in what is reputed to be the most Democratic district in the county. Richards also serves as political director for state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.
Richards said he "certainly" supports Gill but that his duties as deputy county board chair and manager of the Gill campaign were too much.
"It just was not going to be possible to do all of this down the home stretch," Richards said.
Richards insisted that Gill is actively campaigning.
"If they can't find him, that's too bad but I know he's been at a number of public events," he said. "If the Republicans think David is doing so bad I challenge them to release some polling different from David's. From where I see it David is one of the top pickup opportunities for Democrats in the country. His positions fit the district perfectly. The campaign is rolling on all cylinders."
No one has been appointed to replace Richards as campaign manager, Alte said.
"We're looking at some senior staff now to see who will take the reins. But we have everybody in place to do what we need to do," Alte said. "The campaign is not in disarray or anything like that. I don't really know why they feel that way. It's just another political attack, I guess."
This is at least the third change in the Gill campaign management this year. Before Richards, the campaign was directed by Debra Schrishuhn of Urbana.
Gill could be reached for comment Monday.