Governor candidates descending on the suburbs as GOP race intensifies

Editor’s note: One in a series about Republican gubernatorial candidates campaigning in the suburbs.

Jesse Sullivan and Stephanie Trussell hail from diverse backgrounds and belong to different tickets in the June 28 Republican primary race for governor and lieutenant governor.

But both are among a throng of campaigners stumping for votes in the suburbs with one commonality.

"The cost of living, crime on our streets are real problems that we know (Gov.) J.B. Pritzker can't, hasn't, and won't fix," lieutenant governor hopeful Trussell told a group Monday in Lisle, where she lives.

And governor candidate Sullivan asked a crowd Feb. 23 in Itasca: "Do you want to fire J.B. Pritzker and hire a pair of outsiders?"

Pritzker-bashing has dominated in the early stages of the election, but with petition filing ending Monday, expect more GOP-on-GOP engagement, experts said. "I anticipate for the campaigns that have money to see more comparative advertising and sadly some 'negative' campaign advertising," said Kirk Dillard, former state senator and DuPage GOP chairman.

Trussell, a former radio talk show host, warmed up the audience at Raymes Steak and Fish House Monday morning saying, "I'm wearing my Lisle mom sweatshirt. Everything I know about volunteering and serving I learned from Lisle."

She introduced herself as the running mate of state Sen. Darren Bailey of downstate Xenia, adding "by the way, you can applaud whenever you like," to laughter.

Then, Trussell shifted into policy. "Darren and I would demand a zero-based budget that freezes spending with no tax increases. Every department will start at zero and make a case for every cent of its funding.

"This process would eliminate wasteful spending and help us deliver a well-deserved tax cut to the working families across Illinois."

  Republican governor candidate Jesse Sullivan talks to a crowd in Itasca Feb. 23. Marni Pyke/

Sullivan struck a personal note talking about his religious beliefs.

"My Christian faith has been a core driver of my entire life. And I really, truly believe if we want to save the state of Illinois, the No. 1 thing we can truly do is deepen our relationship with God," he said.

Defining himself as a "political outsider," Sullivan asked the room of about 150 people at Church Street Brewing Company, "Don't you all love Illinois? It's such a beautiful home, such a great place to be from."

The resident of rural Petersburg noted, "I get to drive through these corn fields and soybean fields, just chock-full of good-hearted Midwestern people. I love Illinois, but I hate our politics."

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