Republican Sullivan taps former Ives campaign aide Murphy as running mate in governor’s race

By Taylor Avery

SPRINGFIELD — Republican Jesse Sullivan on Friday became the final GOP candidate for governor to announce a running mate, choosing a conservative who worked to unseat Illinois’ last GOP governor in the primary.

It’s been just shy of five months since the venture capitalist from downstate Petersburg threw his hat into the ring. The other four GOP contenders in the crowded primary have already firmed up their tickets, allowing them to begin circulating the petitions required to get them on the ballot.

“It takes time to vet candidates,” Sullivan said of the delay.

Sullivan’s choice for lieutenant governor, Kathleen Murphy, served as the director of communications for former Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives, who pledged “there will be a reckoning,” when she launched her 2018 challenge to Gov. Bruce Rauner after he signed into law a bill that expanded public funding of abortion in Illinois.

“When the opportunity came, and Jesse asked me if I would stand up, I couldn’t say no,” Murphy said Friday during an interview on St. Louis radio station NewsTalkSTL. “I want to give a voice to all those people who have felt like they’ve just been ignored for the past two years.”

Murphy was the president and co-founder of Breakthrough Ideas, a conservative political advocacy group that “connects the dots on public policy,” until she resigned Thursday, according to a statement from fellow co-founder Ives.

Republican Jeanne Ives at an anti-abortion rally in 2018.
Republican Jeanne Ives at an anti-abortion rally in 2018.
 Sun-Times Media

But despite working alongside Murphy for a decade, Ives declined to endorse her and Sullivan at this time. The conservative firebrand from Wheaton said she was considering the Republican candidates in the race before she’ll make her own personal endorsement.

“Kathleen Murphy has worked for me and alongside me for ten years as a legislative assistant, campaign communications director, and most recently as a co-founder of Breakthrough Ideas,” Ives said in a statement. “More than anything Kathleen, and I, believe that Governor Pritzker must not be re-elected.”

The Sullivan-Murphy ticket is just one of five teams of Republican governor and lieutenant governor candidates vying for the chance to run against Pritzker.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and state Rep. Avery Bourne announced their campaign a little less than three weeks ago and are expected to pull big dollar donations from hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, the state’s richest person.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin in 2019.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin in 2019.
 Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

Other GOP tickets include the teams of state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, and former talk radio host Stephanie Trussell; former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, and McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield; and Bull Valley businessman Gary Rabine and Palatine Township Highway Commissioner Aaron Del Mar.

Since the 2014 election, Illinois primary voters have nominated candidates for governor and lieutenant governor on a single ticket, rather than choosing each separately as voters had done in the past.

As a result, candidates for governor can’t start circulating nominating petitions until they’ve determined a running mate for the office of lieutenant governor.

Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, left, in March; State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, center; former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, right.
Suburban businessman Gary Rabine, left, in March; State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, center; former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, right.
 Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file; Facebook

“Unlike Pritzker and the professional political class, I am running this campaign as a political outsider,” Sullivan said in a statement. “It takes time to vet candidates and build coalitions and we couldn’t be more thrilled that Kathleen and I will work together to Save Illinois.”

The announcement comes more than three weeks after the period of petition circulation opened and leaves just a little over five weeks to collect the 3,250 signatures required to have Sullivan’s and Murphy’s names printed on the ballot for the June 28 primary.


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