Two Plymouth residents — Jesse Brown and Dan Sullivan — will square off in the Republican primary Tuesday, Sept. 6, for a chance to run in the general election against incumbent U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Bourne, in the 9th Congressional District. The district includes Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Cape Cod, and much of the South Shore.
Brown, 45, a Marine Corps veteran and co-founder of Heidrea Communications, has raised $94,000 in his bid for Congress, according to federal records. He has previously run for state Senate, and is a member of the Plymouth Republican Town Committee.
Sullivan, 56, a nurse, shows having raised no money, and hasn’t reported spending any money. According to his biography, he holds a number of bachelor’s degrees. He has never run for political office before.
Meanwhile, Keating, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, has raised $571,000, and has more than $1.5 million on hand for the general election.
Sullivan, who describes himself as a voter and not a politician, said he decided to run because of his primary opponent. “In my brief experience here, there are two types of candidates — those who run because they want to be someone and those who run because they want to do something. I want to do something on behalf of senior citizens and the middle class,” he said.
Brown told The Times he was surprised to hear that Sullivan was motivated to run by him. “I do not know him at all. I feel honored if that was his motivation to run,” he said. As for why he’s running, Brown said, “The biggest thing is we have a lot of people who have been in office far too long as of right now. They’re not representing their constituency in a proper way. A lot of their votes are for their best interests and for their careers,” he said.
Sullivan describes himself as a strong believer in the Bill of Rights, and added that he wants to see those rights protected.
Asked about the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, Sullivan said he is not an attorney, but his understanding was that the initial decision was flawed. As a nurse, he said, he supports a woman’s right to medically necessary abortions.
Brown said the SCOTUS ruling put the authority on reproductive rights back in the hands of states where it belongs. “I’m against late-term abortions. But what I’m also for, if there was rape or incest, that a woman does have a right to choose on that aspect,” he said.
Sullivan doesn’t think of himself as a Republican. Instead, he said he is a conservative, and very much opposes the divisiveness of those hardline Republicans and Democrats. He thinks a majority of citizens do not ascribe to those hard and fast positions taken by Republicans and Democrats. “It’s a duty for every candidate to let voters know where they stand on the issues — the economy, public health, climate change, individual rights,” he said. Voters can find his positions on his website, nursedanforcongress.com, and social media in video clips, he said.
Brown said the biggest issues are the economy, inflation, veteran services, and law enforcement.
Responding to a criticism from Sullivan that he’s in the race for the photo op, Brown said, “What I can say to that is everything I talk about are things I already do. By running for this race and getting a larger pulpit, I can get things done.” He noted a nonprofit that he started has already assisted 1,000 veterans.
Sullivan said he thinks he can win over liberal voters of the Island. “What I found is on the big issues, the majority of the people — regardless of ideology — there is a common denominator on the big issues. I believe as an optimist and a pragmatist, there are tangible grounds to bring people together on the big issues.”
As for why Vineyard voters should pull a Republican ballot to vote for him, Brown said, “I’ll be a congressman who will be present, who will listen. That’s one of my strongest traits. I listen to all walks — Republicans and Democrats.”