Sullivan accuses Pritzker of pushing “divisive social issues”

Tillis-Cunningham Debate

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Jesse Sullivan, a Republican primary candidate running for governor, responded to recent measures adopted by the Illinois General Assembly during an interview on Capitol Connection.

Sullivan said he would not have signed the repeal of the Parental Notification Act that required doctors to notify parents when minors seek an abortion, and that he opposed alterations to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which some workers used as grounds to refuse vaccine mandates or workplace testing requirements.

“We have so many areas there we need to work on as a state. I want to get to those,” Sullivan said. “But my goal is how do you find a way to find common ground with this supermajority of legislators? There are areas of overlapping interest where we can say let’s move this state forward. We’ve been at the bottom of the barrel for too long. Divisive social issues, which this, you know, you have JB Pritzker who decides, ‘Let’s bring in a divisive social issue.’ It’s the last thing we need as a state right now.”

The Pritzker campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Sullivan pitched himself as a nice guy Republican who seeks compromise over conflict, and took issue with Pritzker’s push to repeal the last anti-abortion law on the books.

“Downstate versus upstate, Republicans versus Democrats,” Sullivan bemoaned. “It’s always this fighting between one another. What does he do? He decides, ‘Let’s focus on a wedge issue to drive people further apart.’ That’s not what I would be doing,” he said.

The venture capitalist and former defense analyst said Pritzker’s Coronavirus executive orders and mandates are “always sucking away power and liberty and freedom.” He could not say if he thought workers fired for refusing vaccines or tests should qualify for state unemployment benefits, or if there was a legitimate religious or conscientious objection to taking a Covid saliva test.

Sullivan is the latest GOP candidate to enter the primary race for Governor. Former state senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo), state senator Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), and businessman Gary Rabine are also seeking the party’s nomination. Former GOP candidate Kirk Dillard, Republican National Committeeman Richard Porter, and Illinois Republican Congressmen Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger have also considered potentially entering the race.

Schimpf has called on all of the candidates in the race, including J.B. Pritzker, to release their full tax returns. Pritzker has only released the top four cover pages, which omit key specifics about his exemptions, deductions, or charitable donations.

Rabine pledged to release the statement of economic interest that is required under the law, but stopped short of pledging to release his full tax returns.

“I am committed to transparency and I intend to release information that goes above and beyond the necessary requirements to run for governor in Illinois in 2022,” he said.

Bailey, his campaign manager, and campaign spokesman all ignored multiple emails, calls, and texts seeking comment about his plans to release his full tax returns. Bailey has previously refused to answer questions in protest to reporting about his brother-in-law’s Coronavirus hospitalization that he considered “liberal” and “biased.”

Sullivan leads the field in fundraising. The most recent campaign finance documents show his campaign committee has $10,114,619.60 in the bank. Bailey, who has reported far more small-dollar donors, has $1,187,495.72 in his campaign fund. The primary contest is scheduled for June 28th.

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