WNIJ continues to review important races in the upcoming Illinois Primary Election on March 20. Lisa Madigan has been the state’s attorney general for four terms and was elected as the first female to hold that office in the state’s history. She announced in the fall she would not seek re-election. On this week’s Friday Forum, we take a closer look at the crowded field vying to be the state's next top lawyer.
Matthew Dabros is chair of Public Policy and Administration as well as a political science professor at Aurora University. He says it was a surprise when Madigan made her announcement.
Republican Erika Harold had announced her intention to run before Madigan's bombshell. Dabros says Harold entered the race with name recognition. Harold is a former Miss Illinois and Miss America. She has her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She is a private attorney in downstate Illinois and has been a previous candidate for Congress.
Gary Grasso also is running for the position on the Republican side. Grasso has degrees from Georgetown University and Fordham School of Law. He was the former Mayor of Burr Ridge and he is currently on the DuPage county board.
The Democratic side is much more crowded, including a familiar name for many Illinois voters -- former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
"Political scientists talk about a phenomenon known as 'progressive ambition.' That’s the idea that former members of Congress or statewide office holders will seek progressively more powerful offices," Dabros explained. "So you see members of the United States House of Representatives going to the Senate, and you see Senators vying for the Presidency of the United States. So it’s not entirely uncommon for a politician to seek other offices."
He says that, in the case of Pat Quinn, some people might at first be surprised he’s seeking the office of Attorney General, seeing that he was previously the Governor. But Dabros notes that those in that position in states across the country have taken on a larger role in national issues.
"In recent years they’ve negotiated settlements with the tobacco industry, they’ve taken on big businesses, they’re involved in issues related to immigration," Dabros said. "Perhaps Pat Quinn, like others, is looking at this as an opportunity to have a national role in politics."
Democrat Scott Drury ran into a paperwork mishap in his quest to run for the office. At one point it looked like his name was not going to appear on the ballot, but a judge has since ruled that he can stay on.
Drury has his bachelor’s degree from the University of California - Berkeley and a J.D. from Northwestern University. He’s a current Illinois State Representative, and he’s been relatively critical of House Speaker Mike Madigan.
"Drury has made some statements that perhaps he feels that he was treated unfairly by the election officials, but his name is back on the ballot." Dabros said.
Sharon Fairley became Chief Administrator of Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that investigated police misconduct, and led its transformation into the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
She has her bachelor’s from Princeton, and degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago.
"She’s stated that the reason she’s running is she’s dedicated her life to public service and wants to clean up Illinois," Dabros said. She also received the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune for the Democratic primary.
Aaron Goldstein is a 33rd Ward Chicago Democratic Committeemen. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from the University of Iowa.
According to Dabros, "He’s looking forward, he says, to putting forward a 'bold, progressive agenda.' His priorities if elected are standing up to big businesses and what he says is going to be real criminal justice reform."
Renato Mariotti is a former federal prosecutor. He has his bachelor’s from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
"He wants to restore economic justice to Illinois," Dabros said, "and his priorities, he says, are fighting back against the Trump administration."
State Sen. Kwame Raoul was appointed to fill Barack Obama’s state Senate seat. "His priorities, if elected, are transparency in government and also criminal justice reform," Dabros said. His background is a bachelor’s from DePaul University and a J.D. from Chicago Kent Law School. Raoul received an endorsement from the Chicago Teachers Union.
Nancy Rotering is a two-term Mayor of Highland Park. She has held a variety of other civic positions and has a J.D. from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Northwestern.
Jesse Ruiz is a commissioner with the Chicago Public Schools’ Desegregation Monitoring Commission, a commissioner of the Illinois Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee from 1999-2004, and was the Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education from 2004-2011. Ruiz has a bachelor's degree from University of Illinois and a J.D from the University of Chicago.
No one has the incumbency advantage, and Dabros doesn't have any guesses as to who will win the respective primary races.
"Certainly Pat Quinn is known, Kwame Raoul is known, Erika Harold is known from the Republican side, but I don’t think that there is at this point a front runner," Dabros said.