CHICAGO (WLS) -- The race for Illinois governor turned up the heat on Republican candidate Richard Irvin. On Thursday, an outside Democratic group launched a new attack ad that Republicans are decrying as political meddling.
In the Illinois governor's race, a new ad being paid for by the Democratic Governors Association goes after Republican Irvin's record as a criminal defense attorney when he represented domestic abusers and suspects accused of sexual assault.
Irvin, who has the support of the Republican establishment, was not available to respond, but his team called the ad a smear campaign and accused Governor Pritzker of hiding behind the DGA.
House and Senate Republican leaders are now accusing the Democrats of meddling.
"Today I call on Governor Pritzker to stop this obvious effort to hijack, to hijack the Republican Primary Election for governor," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, House Republican Leader. "The governor is too afraid to even put his name on the ads."
SEE ALSO | Billionaire contributes $20M to Republican candidate for Illinois governor
"It's open season this year in politics," ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington said. "It's fair game to run ads against whoever you want to run ads. It does show that the party and that the Democrats see Irvin as the biggest threat and they want to respond to that the threat."
Earlier this week, Irvin launched his latest ad in which he which he calls himself the "Democrats worst nightmare," and says Pritzker is afraid he will beat him.
Records show Pritzker has contributed more than $3 million to the DGA since 2017; most recently, he paid $250,000 at the end of last year.
Sources say the Irvin attack commercial is part of a $700,000 ad campaign by the DGA.
"You wouldn't think JB Pritzker wouldn't need help with advertising," Washington said. "He's got all the money in the world, but he has allies in the Democratic Party that want to see him stay in office. And so they're lending him a hand with these ads. And it gives JB Pritzker the ability to say 'I had nothing to do with it' and to be hands off."
Pritzker's own ads so far have remained positive and self-promoting. His campaign declined to comment on the DGA ad, which itself could signal that the race for governor is going to not only be expensive, but also combative.
Richard Irvin targeted in new attack ad launched by Democratic Governors Association
Republicans decry ad in Illinois governor's race, accuse Democrats of meddling