A Look at the Candidates Running for Illinois Attorney General

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s announcement that she would not seek a fifth term in office sent shockwaves through Illinois’ political circles, with several names floated as potential candidates for the high-profile job. These are the 10 candidates - eight Democrats and two Republicans - who have filed to run for the position:

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A former federal prosecutor, state Rep. Scott Drury, of Highwood, announced on Sept. 19 that he was withdrawing from his campaign for governor and instead running for attorney general. Drury has served in the General Assembly since 2013, and in that time has painted himself as an anti-establishment candidate, often breaking ranks with members of his own party and vocally opposing longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan.
The former head of Chicago's new police oversight agency Sharon Fairley officially announced on Oct. 10 that she would be throwing her hat in the ring. Fairley was appointed in 2016 to serve as the first chief administrator of COPA, a role she assumed when the office officially opened on Sept. 15 - just 10 days before news broke of her eventual departure. Prior to COPA, the former federal prosecutor and assistant attorney general led the new agency's beleaguered predecessor, the Independent Police Review Authority, beginning in Dec. 2015.
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After unsuccessfully running for state representative on Chicago's Northwest Side in 2014, Aaron Goldstein ran for 33rd Ward Democratic committeeman against former Ald. Dick Mell and won. A former Cook County Public Defender, Goldstein also teaches criminal law at North Park University.
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An attorney from Burr Ride, Gary Grasso is running for the Republican nomination. He was the mayor of Burr Ridge from 2005 to 2012, when he resigned to take his seat as a member of the DuPage County Board, on which he currently serves.
Republican Erika Harold is an attorney and former Miss America who ran for Congress downstate in 2013 and announced her intent to run against incumbent Lisa Madigan in September 2017. After Madigan announced she would not seek reelection, Harold said she would like to thank her for her service, and that "regardless of who the Democrats put forward, our campaign will continue to focus on protecting the people and not the powerful."
Former assistant U.S. attorney Renato Mariotti announced his candidacy on Oct. 26 in an appearance on MSNBC, where he has been a commentator and legal analyst. A Chicago native, Mariotti spent nearly ten years as a federal prosecutor and has worked in the private sector since 2016. He said in his announcement that he can no longer "sit on the sidelines."
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State Sen. Kwame Raoul, who has represented Chicago’s South Side since 2004, made his plans to run official on Sept. 20. “As a prosecutor and legislator, I’ve spent my career advocating on behalf of victims, speaking up for the voiceless and producing real change in our justice system,” Raoul said in a statement. “As Attorney General, I’ll put my problem-solving and advocacy experience to work to ensure that justice in Illinois is blind, never discriminating between city, suburban and Downstate, between brown, black, and white or between rich and poor.” Raoul has long eyed the position and was one of the first Democrats whose names circulated following Madigan’s announcement. Adding to the incentive, his Senate seat is not on the ballot until 2020, meaning he does not need to give up his current position to run, and will be able to return to the legislature if he loses.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, elected in 2011, launched her campaign in late September. In 2016, she unsuccessfully challenged former Rep. Brad Schneider in the Democratic primary for the north suburban 10th Congressional District he previously held, losing the bid to unseat incumbent Rep. Bob Dold. In announcing her entry into the race, Rotering told Politico that one of her chief accomplishments as mayor was Highland Park's ban on assault weapons, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear in 2015 - leaving the policy intact.
President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners Jesse Ruiz announced his campaign on Oct. 18, saying, "For too long, many of us have felt forgotten and let down by our government. As Attorney General, I will use all of the powers of the law as a shield – and if necessary, a sword – on behalf of everyone in Illinois." Ruiz said that as the son of Mexican immigrants, President Donald Trump's comments on immigrants motivated him to run for office. Ruiz is a practicing attorney and in the past has served as vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, interim CEO of the Chicago Public Schools district, as well as chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education.
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Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced his intention to run for attorney general on Oct. 27, saying he wants to be "the lawyer for the people." Quinn served as governor from 2009 to 2015 before he was ousted by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
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