U.S. Navy veteran Grayson “Kash” Jackson may be one candidate for governor that few people have heard of.
While the two billionaire candidates in the race – incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker – have spent millions to swamp the airways with radio and TV spots, Jackson’s campaign does not have that luxury.
Pritzker has raised more than $175 million and Rauner, more than $79 million.
Jackson is originally from Louisiana but has called Illinois home for the past six years. He rents a small farmhouse in Lake County – he owned a home from 2009 to 2015 but says the property taxes caught up to him.
“My property taxes doubled from $4,500 to $9,000 in that time frame,” Jackson said.
If elected, Jackson said he would like to implement a 1-percent property tax. (He had previously campaigned on a five-year freeze on property taxes, but has revamped his plan.)
A proponent of limited government, he has also proposed releasing all non-violent inmates imprisoned for what he calls “victimless offenses” and also favors legalizing marijuana for recreational use. He would use the tax revenue from pot sales to help fund schools.
Jackson was raised by his maternal grandparents and joined the Navy at age 17. As a minor, he needed his grandparent’s written approval to officially join.
When he was a junior in high school, his grandfather had a stroke. The medical bills piled up and eventually the bank took their house.
He says he watched his family struggle financially his entire life, and realized he didn’t want to live like that, so turned to a career in the military.
Jackson plans to apply his experience from the Navy to the governor’s office.
“The people that I respected the most in the military weren’t the ones that just issued orders down the chain of command. They were the men and women who were boots on the ground. That’s what I want to be doing,” he said.
As governor, Jackson said he would live in different communities “from the South Side of Chicago, all the way down to the southern end of the state, into as far as the Northwest border and down the Mississippi.”
Jackson said his biggest hurdle has been changing people’s perceptions about third-party candidates.
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website is currently predicting a 13-point win for Pritzker over Rauner.
Jackson said the Democratic and Republican parties only represent a minority of constituents. Jackson is trying to reach Illinois citizens, who he said represent a majority of the population, “who feel they don’t have a voice,” he said.
But if he doesn’t win next week, Jackson said he may seek another office in the future. “I’m getting a lot of pushes for Senate,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback for either (Illinois Senate or U.S. Senate).”