TV ads fly in Illinois race

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Jim Ryan's campaign for governor unveiled the Republican's first two television ads Tuesday and a nine-point plan for "fiscal discipline" and "ethical accountability" in state government.

One ad for the March 19 primary was a sketch of Ryan's record in government. A second ad that began running Tuesday characterizes opponent Corinne Wood as desperate.

And Ryan, whose commanding lead in early polls spared him the expense of the pre-New Year ad buys of his opponents, also criticized Gov. George Ryan at a Springfield news conference. The Illinois attorney general contended people have lost confidence in the governor's office because of George Ryan's licenses-for-bribes scandal and his flip-flops on taxes, abortion and airport expansion.

Wood, the lieutenant governor, began a spot Monday in Chicago, Rockford and Springfield that calls Ryan's opposition to abortion "extreme." Ryan said it misleads voters into believing a governor has power to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's decree that abortion is legal.

Ryan's response ad indicates he supports abortion restrictions, such as parental notification, and criticizes Wood for "saying whatever it takes to try to win an election."

"I'm going to try to run a positive campaign, but I'm not going to be a punching bag," he said Tuesday.

Wood spokeswoman Tressa Pankovits retorted that Ryan is insulting voters' intelligence by suggesting a governor can't have a substantial impact on abortion and its accessibility in Illinois.

'Member initiatives'

In revealing his fiscal and ethics plan, Ryan promised to end unidentified budget lump-sums given to individual legislators for hometown pork projects. The projects, referred to as "member initiatives," might be worthy but should be approved by the Legislature, he said.

"You have to outline your real priorities, and that's what you have to spend your money on," Ryan said. "You have to say 'no' to other things that people come to you with. There's no other way to do it. The bottom line is, in the last few years we've spent too much money."

The state faces a budget deficit of as much as $900 million, fueled by slower-than-expected revenue growth and quickly rising costs, particularly for health care.

Ryan laid part of the blame for the budget crisis at the governor's feet, saying excessive spending, along with the licenses-selling scandal and changes of heart on issues such as raising taxes, have hurt people's confidence.

George Ryan spokesman Dennis Culloton said governors sometimes have to make different decisions than campaigners "pandering on the campaign trail."

Jim Ryan said he would veto budgets that outspend revenues; maintain strong balances and backup funding for emergencies; cut thousands of state jobs; and set up a panel of business people to recommend ways to trim budget fat.

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