House candidates decry ads linking Republican hopeful to Madigan
Both candidates in the 56th state House District Republican primary are decrying a series of mailers and online ads alleging one of them has an unspecified financial connection and other ties to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Jillian Rose Bernas -- the target of the ads -- said the only way rival Charlotte Kegarise can demonstrate her sincerity in disavowing the ads is to speak out against them and fire campaign workers tied to the group that funded them.
"I'd like to see more of a plan from her campaign and not these baseless accusations," Bernas said.
Kegarise said the ads, paid for by the House Republican Organization, demonstrate that a candidate doesn't always control the work a political action committee does on his or her behalf.
"I don't think mudslinging is going to get you anywhere," Kegarise said. "I was none too happy when I saw it."
Phone calls seeking comment from the House Republican Organization and its leader, state Rep. Jim Durkin, were not returned. Kegarise said the organization encouraged her to run for the 56th District seat.
Kegarise said she couldn't immediately respond to Bernas' request to fire people. Only one of the three people Bernas wants fired works closely with her, she added.
But Kegarise agrees with Bernas that the ads have no basis in fact.
"I have no evidence of it," she said. "I've said from day one I want to run a clean race -- period."
Bernas said the House Republican Organization is trying to taint candidates it doesn't support by tying them to Madigan, even Republicans running against his agenda.
The winner of the March 20 primary will face four-term Democratic incumbent and fellow Schaumburg resident Michelle Mussman in the November general election.
Bernas, a first-term Schaumburg Township District Library trustee, lost to Mussman two years ago but announced her intention to run again last September. Kegarise, who's served for 24 years on the Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 school board, said she was asked to run by the House Republican Organization in the late fall.
The 56th District includes Schaumburg and parts of Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Bartlett, Hanover Park, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Roselle.