James Peppe – his closest friends just call him Pep – is a regular American, NOT a professional politician. He is a small business owner, licensed financial investment adviser and father to four wonderful children.
Pep is the ninth of 12 children. He enjoyed a wonderful upbringing, growing up in a large family of very modest means in a 950-square foot, 3-bedroom 1-bathroom home in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He is a second-generation American, his paternal grandparents having emigrated from Italy in the early twentieth century. His mother’s family comes from southern Minnesota’s farming community with largely Scandinavian, German and Irish roots. In all, Pep’s upbringing reflects a rich combination of all these relationships and experiences resulting in an uplifting American success story.
As a child, Pep was a leader among his peers, and his family’s strong commitment to education drove him to excel in public school classrooms, where he won academic honors and achieved acceptance to Yale University. Outside the classroom Pep was a stellar athlete in multiple sports, eventually starring on the Varsity football and track squads at Cooper High School and playing four years of college football at Yale under Hall of Fame coach Carm Cozza. Pep’s athletic accomplishments were all the more remarkable considering he suffered a traumatic injury as a young child that left him virtually blind in one eye. This was merely the beginning of a lifelong pattern of overcoming adversity.
Throughout his upbringing Pep was inspired by the examples and lessons provided by his parents and siblings. His dad, Victor, was a World War II veteran, accomplished amateur and semi-pro athlete and former Hollywood stuntman who preached discipline, self-reliance and high achievement. He was widely recognized and revered in the community as a vocal booster, not just on behalf of his own children, but of all the kids in the neighborhood and at Cooper High. Mother Marlene was the quiet rock of the Peppe family, and his siblings formed a tightknit and inseparable team that was well known and highly regarded throughout the community. With over 60 next generation members, the Peppes remain a close family today and, in its diversity of individual characteristics and views, is a wonderful microcosm of America. In fact, many would say that the Peppe family IS America!
Upon his graduation from Yale in 1988, Pep served an internship on Capitol Hill in the Congressional office of Minnesota Representative Bill Frenzel. Within days he found himself writing floor speeches and drafting responses to constituent inquiries, and Frenzel would quickly become an important role model and mentor as Pep discovered a passion for public service.
From there, Pep would go on to serve in various capacities for U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz, Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson and two Minnesota Senate Minority Leaders.
In 1992 Pep was recruited to run for the Minnesota Senate and lost a very close race against an intrenched, long-time incumbent who had not received less than 60% of the vote in previous races. That taste of conventional politics was eye-opening and disillusioning to Pep and, soon thereafter, he decided to shift his focus to family first.
Following his first entrepreneurial experience operating an independent media and public relations consulting firm, Pep accepted a position as Regional Manager at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), where he worked as an advocate for manufacturing companies and the millions of employees and families that depend upon them. This role, which would last for 11 years and bring him to his new home in Houston, Texas, offered Pep the opportunity to quench his passion for service while providing for the needs of his young and growing family.
In recent years Pep has returned to the private sector, working as a licensed investment adviser helping people plan for retirement while establishing and acquiring new small businesses.
Renewed Call to Service
The election of Donald Trump in 2016 awoke Pep’s passion for service with a flood of mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was excited to witness the upending of the political establishment that for so long had promised so much and delivered so little. And on the other hand, he was stunned to see America invest its hopes in someone as disingenuous and dishonorable as Trump.
In announcing his intention to seek the 2020 Republican Presidential nomination, Pep expressed his firm belief that America needs a new kind of leadership, one that combines character with common sense and the critical ability to relate to regular Americans. A true outsider who owes nothing to the establishment of political, monied and celebrity elites. In short, a leader who is one of us.
"It is not the critic who counts," said President Teddy Roosevelt. “not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither no victory nor defeat.”
Today Pep - along with his fiancé, Amanda Ward, and her three daughters - calls Texas home, though his extensive family and friends network spans the United States north to south and east to west. His own children - Alexander (24), George (22), Harrison (20) and Isabella (18) – are busy pursuing various ambitions around the country but still find time to be active on the campaign. In addition to spending time with family, Pep enjoys supporting his favorite cause, LiveLoud Charities Foundation, a Houston based organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding research for the early detection of cancer.
Pep is truly one of us, and he stands ready to help lead our revolution to reclaim America from the establishment of rich and powerful elites who have continually failed to keep their promises.
James Peppe is our Man in the Arena. One of Us for All of Us.