John M. Sullivan

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John M. Sullivan
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 47th district
In office
January 2003 (2003-Jan) – January 2017 (2017-Jan)
Preceded byLaura Kent Donahue
Succeeded byJil Tracy
Personal details
Born (1959-01-09) January 9, 1959 (age 60)
Macomb, Illinois
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Joan Sullivan
ResidenceRushville, Illinois
Alma materQuincy University

John M. Sullivan (born January 9, 1959) is an American politician and the current Director-designate of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Prior to this, he served as a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate for the 47th district of Illinois from 2003 to 2017.

Early life and career[edit]

John Sullivan was born in Macomb in 1959. He graduated from Quincy University with a bachelor's degree in history.[1] He went on to work as an agricultural loan officer before joining Sullivan's Auctioneers, the family's successful auction and real estate business. He currently lives on a farm north of Rushville on the family farm with wife, three sons and one daughter.[2]

State senator[edit]

Sullivan was elected in 2002, defeating 22-year Republican incumbent Laura Kent Donahue in one of the closest and most expensive senate races that election cycle. The district, the largest in the state[3] includes all of Adams, Brown, Cass, Hancock, Henderson, Mason, McDonough, Schuyler, Warren counties and portions of Fulton and Knox counties.[4]

Since he represented a historically Republican district, Sullivan was targeted for defeat by the Republicans in the 2004 election. However, he defeated Republican Tom Ernst with 61 percent of the vote. In March 2006 Illinois's 17th congressional district's congressman, Lane Evans, announced he would be retiring at the end of his 12th term shortly after he won the nomination for a thirteenth term. Sullivan, whose district was largely coextensive with the west-central portion of the congressional district, entered the special nominating election finishing second to a longtime aide of Evans, Phil Hare. Sullivan was unopposed for reelection in 2008. In 2012, Sullivan handily defeated Randy Frese.

Senator Sullivan is currently the Vice Chair of the Agriculture & Conservation committee and is assigned to five other committees; Energy, Higher Education, Revenue, Transportation and Insurance. Senator Sullivan currently serves a Majority Whip.[5]

Proving just how Republican Sullivan's district was at most levels, for his entire tenure his associated Representatives in Districts 93 and 94 were both Republicans. In Illinois, state house districts are formed by dividing senate districts in half. This gave Sullivan the distinction of being the only State Senator to have two associated Representatives from the opposite party.

On June 19, 2015, he announced that he would be retiring from the Illinois Senate at the end of his term in 2017.[6] Underlining the Republican bent of his district, Republican Jil Tracy, who formerly represented District 93—the western portion of the Senate district—won the seat unopposed.[7]

Post legislative career[edit]

In 2017, John Sullivan was named by J.B. Pritzker the co-chair of the latter's Agriculture Transition Committee.[8] After the transition, it was announced on December 27, 2018 that Sullivan would be the next director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.[9] He will succeed Bruce Rauner-appointee Ray Poe.[10]

Election history[edit]

2008 General Election Results – Illinois’s 47th Senate District[11]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John M Sullivan 77,597 100
Democratic hold
2002 General Election Results – Illinois’s 47th Senate District[12]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Sullivan 40,403 51.5
Republican Laura Kent Donahue (incumbent) 38,009 48.5
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ "John Sullivan Biography". Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus.
  2. ^ "About John". Friends of John Sullivan. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  3. ^ "The District". Friends of John Sullivan. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  4. ^ "Illinois Senate District 47" (PDF). Illinois State Board of Elections.
  5. ^ "Biography of John M Sullivan". Illinois General Assembly. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  6. ^ Miller, Rich (2015-06-19). "Sen. Sullivan Won't Run Again". Capitol Fax. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  7. ^ de Jauregui, Ruth (2016-06-18). "Republican Tracy to run unopposed in Senate District 47". West Central Reporter.
  8. ^ Finke, Doug (November 21, 2018). "Pritzker names Ag transition committee". The State Journal-Register. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Wilson, Doug (December 27, 2018). "John Sullivan to be Illinois ag director". Quincy Media. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  10. ^ Miller, Rich (November 13, 2015). "This just in… Poe gets Ag". Capitol Fax. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  11. ^ "General Election - 11/4/2008 47th Senate". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  12. ^ "General Election - 11/5/2002 47th Senate". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2012-12-19.

External links[edit]