A popular incumbent stepping away from a statewide office is expected to bring a bevy of hopefuls in search of the post.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan announcing that she will not seek a fifth term has already brought two announced Democratic contenders, two more on the brink of tossing their hat in the ring, and many giving the proposal serious consideration.
A Republican candidate, Erika Harold of Urbana, had already surfaced prior to Madigan’s bombshell announcement.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13th) of Chicago and state Rep. Scott Drury (D-58th) of Highwood have already announced their candidacies for the Democratic nod.
Two more Democratic candidates, Chicago Park Board President Jesse Ruiz and former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew Schapiro of Chicago, say they are close to joining the fray.
“I am leaning strongly toward it,” Schapiro told Chronicle Media. “There are family discussions to be had. I am taking everything into account.”
Schapiro said now is the time for caring individual to take up the torch and be active in changing things.
“I feel none of us can be standing on the sidelines of our country or our state,” he said. “If you actually care, you have to decide whether to stay on the sidelines or not, if you are going to be involved or pick up the paper every day and scream.”
En route to a family funeral in California at the end of last week, Ruiz said he is close to announcing his candidacy.
“I am taking steps to enter the race for Illinois attorney general,” Ruiz said via email.
Other Democrats said to still be on the fence about a possible run for attorney general are state Sens. Michael Hastings (D-19th) of Tinley Park and Ira Silverstein (D-8th) of Chicago, state Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-57th) of Northbrook and McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks of Marengo.
Some prominent Democratic names, including Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart of Chicago and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx of Flossmoor, have said they are not interested in running for the position.
“I can confirm Tom Dart is not running for attorney general,” said a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.
Republicans are lining up behind lawyer and former Miss America Erika Harold.
“In high school, I was the target of hurtful bullying, back when people thought that was just kids being kids,” said Harold, who works at one of Champaign County’s largest law firms, in announcing her candidacy. “That experience inspired me to help those who need it most, to be a voice for people who have been silenced.”
Major players in the Illinois Republican Party, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-82nd) of Western Springs and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin of Elmhurst, have said they are not running for the post.
“The AG race is going to be very exciting,” Durkin, who has already endorsed Harold in the race, said last week before the City Club of Chicago. “I believe Erika will be our nominee; and on the Democrat side, you are seeing everybody with a law degree is actually putting their name in.”
Former Czech Republic Ambassador Schapiro and state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-7th) of Westchester, who considered a run for the position after getting many calls of support but ultimately decided against it, both said a crowded field does not necessarily mean trouble for the Democrats.
“Look at history. Vigorously contested primaries often create stronger, better candidates,” Schapiro said. “It is hard to know how it will play out in the long run.”
Welch said the primary process would produce the Democratic contender.
“The Democratic Party will have the people decide the person,” Welch said. “It will be a representative of the people. I think that works best.”
The state representative said he would wait to see who is all in the race before getting behind a candidate to support.
“I am looking for the person who is going to be good for the electorate, someone for all the people,” said the third-term representative.
Welch said the timing just was not right for him to seek statewide office at this time.
“I’m in my third term. I feel as a representative I am hitting my stride in the House,” Welch said. “I do believe I am making a difference for people of the 7th District. I am chair of a committee. There is a lot of attention on the House right now.”
—- Attorney general post draws plenty of interest —-