PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — In his first in-studio interview, Jesse Sullivan outlined his plan to run for Governor, and what he’d do if he gets elected.
Sullivan was born in Springfield and now lives in Petersburg. He says the mission of his life are “faith, family, and service.”
“After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, I served as Special Assistant to the Haitian ambassador, advising on US humanitarian assistance and aid to the country. My experiences there shaped my view that job creation, not free assistance – at home or abroad – are the keys to sustained economic growth,” Sullivan’s website reads.
“Early on, I led a Human Terrain Team as a DOD civilian in counterinsurgency operations in the deadliest district of Afghanistan. I know firsthand why a strong national defense is essential to our ability to thrive- and why a strong economic growth is the key to human flourishing at home and abroad. I carry the same sidearm here at home that I carried abroad, and understand that the second amendment is an important piece of our national identity,” Sullivan’s website bio continues.
Sullivan attended Saint Louis University for undergrad and then attended Oxford University for a Master’s in Global Governance & Diplomacy and to play varsity basketball.
Sullivan founded Alter, a non-profit aimed at using entrepreneurship to end global poverty.
“I also attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business for a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), where I received the Arjay Miller Social Change Leadership Award,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan is running as a Republican but says he wants to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans.
“I call myself an Abraham Lincoln Republican,” Sullivan said. “We were a sports family growing up, not a political one.”
Sullivan said his Christian faith helped shape his worldview.
“That did mean I was pro-life from the beginning and have held consistent throughout,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said since he’s launched his campaign, some people have referred to him as a “California guy,” which he says is far from the truth.
“I spent less than three years of my life in California. Two were for grad school at Stanford Business School,” Sullivan said. “I did international development work overseas. What I learned through it was that we have to create jobs for families in need. What I learned in Silicon Valley was, “what are the jobs of the future we need to create in Illinois?”
Sullivan said Illinois has so much to offer, but the population decline doesn’t show it.
“25% in the area are 18 or under. How are we going to create the jobs of the future right here in central Illinois? That means lowering taxes and making this a business-friendly environment. I want to make Illinois the most business-friendly state in the nation,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan joins a list of Republicans looking to defeat current Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2022.
State Sen. Darren Bailey, Former State Sen. Paul Schimpf, Chris Roper, and Gary Rabine have all announced campaigns for the election.
Sullivan said he wants to be a bridge between political parties.
“I think right now we are more divided than ever. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” This race is not about left versus right, it’s about down versus up,” Sullivan said. “Right now as a State, we are down. We are at the bottom of all these lists for trust in government, corruption, crime statistics that are driving people out of our cities.”
Sullivan said he wants to bring downstate Illinois and Chicago together.
Sullivan says many claims have been made against him, and he wanted to respond to them during the segment.
“My faith has led me overseas to help people in poverty. I’m not a California guy with California values. When you spend less than three years of your life in a place, two of which were for grad school, it’s pretty ridiculous that people want to frame you that you’re from there and have those values. All my neighbors were surprised when they heard I was a “California guy,” Sullivan laughed.
“I got to serve as an Army intel civilian. I don’t have veteran status, nor do I claim to. I was able to serve in uniform with a weapon in Afghanistan on a tour of duty where I was advising a brigadier general,” Sullivan said. “My job was to get to know these Afghan militia commanders out in the poppy fields of Afghanistan and say ‘How are we going to fix this situation?’ Out on combat patrols every day, trying to say I want to proudly serve my country. But then people want to say that I’m trying to use this for my own benefit. This was a sacred service to me and my family and my wife. It was one of the hardest decisions to make to leave my wife and my family.”
Sullivan said his service gives him a “great debt of gratitude” for our local first responders.
Sullivan, Rabine, Schimpf, Roper, and Bailey have all been guests for On the Record. Current Governor J.B. Pritzker has been contacted multiple times to be a guest on the show but has not provided any response.