A former Miss America and a longtime state senator will square off in the battle to be Illinois’ next attorney general.
Republican Erika Harold and Democrat Kwame Raoul both got the early blessings of their respective parties and rode that support to primary victories.
The Harvard-educated Harold, who served as Miss America in 2003, stepped up to be the Republican nominee for attorney general before incumbent Lisa Madigan announced her retirement. That loyalty was rewarded with financial and political backing from Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and other party leaders.
Party leaders across the country are giving their support to Harold.
Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, said Harold is just the person to clean up the political messes in the state.
“Illinois deserves a champion who will shake things up in Springfield, a leader who will take on the political class, end corruption and stand up for the vulnerable,” Rutledge said “Erika Harold will be that champion. A Harvard-educated lawyer, Erika will take on the big fights — stand up to the (Michael) Madigan political machine — and finally put the people of Illinois first.
“The corrupt Madigan political machine has made Illinois a punching bag for the rest of the country. No longer does it have to be that way. Erika Harold will fight for every single Illinoisan and be their voice, their champion, in Springfield. I look forward to all the good as attorney general Erika Harold can do for Illinois.”
Harold said she wants to put more attention on the wrongdoing of lawmakers in Illinois.
“Political corruption has been rampant in this state,” Harold said. “It undermines performances in the state and downgrades our economy. Our economic opportunities are drying up because of it.”
A victim of bullying when she was younger, Harold said she will fight to ensure all individuals in the state are treated with respect.
“As an attorney, I have always stood up for other people.” Harold said. “That is what I am all about.”
Harold said as attorney general she would work to tackle the opioid crisis plaguing the state.
She said her work on the board of directors of Prison Fellowship, an outreach to prisoners and their families, has given her insight into needed criminal justice reform.
Harold topped former DuPage County Board member and Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso in last week’s primary.
Raoul was appointed to fill the vacancy left in the 13th Legislative District by former state Sen. Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2004. At the state Capitol, supporters said, Raoul quickly gained the confidence of leaders to handle difficult negotiations and landmark legislation, including the abolition of the death penalty, background checks on private transfers of guns and the strongest voting rights protection in the country.
Raoul came under fire during the primary campaign for taking money from tobacco and utility companies.
“I am not defined by a campaign contribution,” Raoul told supporters after claiming victory in the primary. “I have a 13-year record to prove it. Hell, I don’t smoke! And I voted against every tobacco bill that every came across me.”
The state senator said he is looking forward to being able to tackle issues more in-depth in the General Election, noting that with an eight-candidate Democratic primary, he was often limited to 45 seconds to answer a question — and often the questions weren’t about doing the job of attorney general.
“We spent more time talking about campaign contributions and this scandal or that scandal instead of talking about the job of the attorney general to protect consumers, instead of talking about the violence that me and my children have experienced directly outside of our home.”
Raoul said it shouldn’t take a tragedy in Florida “for all of us to walk out because we’ve had these tragedies one by one on a daily basis.”
“I want people to be just as outraged about the tragedies we have had on the South and West sides of Chicago and East St. Louis and Springfield and Peoria and Champaign and the South Suburbs,” Raoul said. “Every life matters. It’s not just talking about an assault weapons ban and bump stocks. It’s about talking about investing in the neighborhoods where people are exposed to normalized violence and we’ve got children suffering the trauma of coming up in those neighborhoods. If you don’t treat that trauma … shame on us!”
Raoul captured the Democratic nomination for attorney general in last week’s primary by topping a field of hopefuls, including former Gov. Pat Quinn.
—- Harold, Raoul gear up for November run for attorney general —-