Underwood, Oberweis roll out first TV ads in 14th Congressional District race

  • Jim Oberweis and Lauren Underwood

    Jim Oberweis and Lauren Underwood

Updated 9/22/2020 7:16 PM

The candidates for Illinois' 14th Congressional District seat are rolling out their first TV commercials of the season -- and they're as different as the candidates' approaches to the contest.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood's ad is a cheery, 30-second spot that emphasizes her accessibility to constituents and the legislation she created that has become law.


In contrast, Republican challenger Jim Oberweis' 30-second ad accuses Underwood of not condemning recent riots and looting when the subject was raised during an editorial board interview. It says nothing about Oberweis' platform or any issue other than the rioting.

Underwood, a rookie lawmaker from Naperville, and Oberweis, a state senator from Sugar Grove, are going head-to-head in one of the most-watched congressional races in the nation. Underwood upset four-term Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren in 2018.

The candidates are expected to raise millions for advertising and other campaign expenses. At the year's midway point, Team Underwood had a sizable financial advantage over Oberweis' campaign, with a $3.2 million war chest more than eight times what Oberweis' campaign had at the time.

In forums and interviews this summer, Underwood has been upbeat when talking about her legislative accomplishments, her goals and her efforts at bipartisanship.

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Underwood's ad, titled "Everywhere," depicts her speaking with constituents in different settings. A female narrator talks of Underwood's hosting of more than 25 town halls and attending 135 community events.

The ad also touts three pieces of legislation Underwood put forth that were signed into law by President Donald Trump. In all three cases, Underwood's proposals or parts of them were absorbed into bills that became law, as often happens in the lawmaking process.

As the ad concludes, Underwood talks about her responsibility to represent 14th District residents, and the narrator says, "She's just getting started."


The ad will run on cable TV in the district, on streaming platforms and during web-connected TV programs.

Oberweis has gone after Underwood, her public comments and her votes in Congress during multiple candidate forums, and his first commercial follows the same playbook.

Dubbed "Beautiful Protests," the ad centers on a remark Underwood made Sept. 3 during a Chicago Sun-Times online endorsement interview. Following an audio clip of an editor talking about rioting that's been truncated to sound like an accusation, Underwood is seen saying, "We have seen many instances of beautiful protests."

Her words then are digitally altered to echo as footage of rioting and looting in Kenosha, Aurora and Chicago is shown.

Underwood has issued formal statements saying, in part, that "we should never seek to solve problems through violence."

Additionally, in a Sept. 9 Daily Herald interview, Underwood said the violence stemming from the protests was "not appropriate," and she called the resulting injuries and property damage a tragedy.

On Tuesday, an Underwood campaign spokeswoman said Underwood's "beautiful protests" remark referred to peaceful gatherings in the 14th District and not to the violence that has occurred.

Regardless, in Oberweis' ad, a female narrator urges viewers to "vote against rioters and anyone who enables them" and to vote against Underwood.

The spot will air on five broadcast channels and on cable TV, according to an Oberweis news release.

The 14th District includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Kendall counties.

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