The race to challenge Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker got another contender on Thursday, as businessman Jesse Sullivan announced that he will run for the Republican nomination for next year’s election.
Sullivan, a 37-year-old who hails from Petersburg in Menard County, says that he is looking to shake up the status quo in Springfield, and says that he wants to focus on the changes that he says need to be made in the state.
“Do you want to continue on this downward spiral, or do you want to turn things around for the state of Illinois,” he said.
Sullivan released a campaign video Thursday, and held an event in New Salem, the same community where Abraham Lincoln launched his first political campaign in the 19th century.
Sullivan started his own venture capital firm in San Francisco, and has returned to his central Illinois roots for his first-ever political contest.
The businessman has already raised $11 million, but will seek to raise a lot more to take on Pritzker, who has already indicated he will dip into his own considerable wealth in his re-election campaign.
“I’m going to try to give this compelling, positive vision and message for this state, and hopefully we’ll be able to attract in the resources needed to take on the wealthiest governor in the country,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan joins a Republican field that is already crowded and that could potentially draw in even more contenders. Schaumburg businessman Gary Rabine, Illinois State Rep. Darren Bailey and former Illinois State Sen. Paul Schimpf are all already in the field. Rep. Rodney Davis and RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard have also indicated they could potentially jump into the race before next year’s primary.
Sullivan is looking to distinguish himself from the other contenders, and says that his vision represents the change that Republicans are searching for.
“People want a change,” he said. “They want to turn things around in the state of Illinois, and that is the real choice that people get to make here.”
Pritzker, who cruised to victory in 2018 over former Gov. Bruce Rauner, says that his attention is focused on his current job, and that the political race will eventually shake itself out.
“It’s a mess over there on the Republican side,” he said. “They’re beating up on each other. All I can say is that I’m focused on the issues that are important to the people of Illinois.”
Next year’s primary was pushed back from March to June, and the general election will take place in November.