If Illinoisans could elect Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama, maybe they can also elect Kwame Raoul.
Raoul, who replaced Obama as “Chicago’s Lakefront Senator,” had been considering running for attorney general. Now that Lisa Madigan is seeking re-election to that office, he may take the $400,000 he raised for that race and apply it to a run for governor.
As the chairman of the bi-cameral Pensions Conference Committee, Raoul has criticized both of his prospective opponents -- Gov. Pat Quinn and Former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley -- for trying to score political points off the General Assembly. He recently said that Quinn’s effort to stop legislative salaries is an “unconstitutional stunt,” and that Daley “sensationalizes the issue” by urging the governor to lock negotiators in the governor’s mansion until they come up with a new pension plan.
Raoul is one of the senate’s most liberal members. He sponsored the bill to end the death penalty and is a force behind the plan to amend the constitution to allow for progressive taxation. As a negotiator on the conceal carry bill, he pushed for a home rule exemption, to allow municipalities to adopt gun regulation more restrictive than the statewide standard.
Hyde Park, Raoul’s liberal home neighborhood, has been a cradle of idealistic senators -- Paul Douglas, Carol Moseley Braun, Barack Obama -- but has never produced a governor, an office that requires a more practical politician. And some of Raoul’s criticisms of the current candidates sound more like those of a frustrated legislator than a potential executive.
Raoul’s candidacy would hurt Quinn more than Daley. According to a recent Capitol Fax poll
, Quinn leads Daley 47 percent to 27 percent among African-Americans. Raoul would attract enough African-American votes to erase Quinn’s overall 38-33 percent lead over Daley.
Raoul says he won’t make a decision on a campaign until after his conference committee finishes its work.