Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Nobody Really Wants To Be Attorney General

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    In 1998, running for the first of his million terms as secretary of state, Jesse White promised to seek no higher office. He was obviously trying to discomfit his Republican opponent, Al Salvi, who had lost a U.S. Senate race to Dick Durbin two years before and obviously wanted to be something more than secretary of state.

    But White has kept his promise, which makes him unique among modern-day state officeholders. Every politician who has held a constitutional office in the last two decades has run for either governor or senator. When the comptroller or the attorney general says, "I'm just focused on the job I have now," don't believe it. They're all focused on something bigger. These jobs are just minor-league stepping stones to D.C. or the statehouse. Here's the record.
    LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
     
    George Ryan, 1983-91: Elected governor in 1998
    Bob Kustra, 1991-98: Lost Republican primary for Senate, 1998
    Corinne Wood, 1999-2003: Lost Republican primary for governor, 2002
    Pat Quinn, 2003-09: Replaced Rod Blagojevich as governor, 2009
    Sheila Simon, 2011-present: Father was a senator
    ATTORNEY GENERAL

    Neil Hartigan, 1983-91: Democratic nominee for governor, 1990. Lost to Jim Edgar.

    Roland Burris, 1991-95: Lost Democratic primaries for governor in 1998 and 2002. Appointed to U.S. Senate, 2009.
    Jim Ryan, 1995-2003: Republican nominee for governor, 2002. Lost to Rod Blagojevich.
    Lisa Madigan, 2003-present: Currently mulling how she can "best serve" Illinois.

    SECRETARY OF STATE

    Alan Dixon, 1977-81: Elected to U.S. Senate, 1980
    Jim Edgar, 1981-91: Elected governor, 1990

    George Ryan, 1991-99: See above
    Jesse White, 1999-present: No further ambition
    TREASURER

    Pat Quinn, 1991-95: See above

    Judy Baar Topinka, 1995-2007: Republican nominee for governor, 2006. Lost to Rod Blagojevich.
    Alexi Giannoulias, 2007-2011: Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, 2010. Lost to Mark Kirk.
    Dan Rutherford, 2011-present: Running like mad for governor.
    COMPTROLLER 

    Roland Burris, 1979-91: See above
    Dawn Clark Netsch, 1991-95: Democratic nominee for governor, 1994. Lost to Jim Edgar.
    Loleta Didrickson, 1995-99: Lost Republican primary for U.S. Senate, 1998.
    Dan Hynes, 1999-2011. Lost Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, 2004; lost Democratic primary for governor, 2010.
    Judy Baar Topinka, 2011-present: See above