AG Raoul? Not so fast

By ANDREW HOLZMAN
Herald Intern

State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13), is interested in the Illinois’ Attorney General seat, but he’s focusing on the job he has now. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday that Raoul had hopes of taking the seat if its current occupant, Lisa Madigan, decides to run for governor.

“There are people who are jockeying and who have a lot of time on their hands to speculate on what their political future may be,” Raoul said, adding later, “I have responded to other people’s speculating.”

Although Raoul says he doesn’t know better than anyone what Madigan’s plans are, he does say he’ll get more aggressive with his fundraising in advance of a possible statewide run. “You can best take advantage of an opportunity if you’re prepared in the event that it comes up,” he said.

Throughout an interview with the Herald, Raoul stressed that his job on the floor of the Senate would come first until the end of the session. “What I have on the table right now, with the gun safety policy and the pension reform, is my primary focus. If I can handle those things successfully, the other things will take care of themselves,” he said, explaining that “the very best thing I can do [in advance of a potential bid for the seat] is to have a solid record to run upon.”

Despite his efforts to distance himself from hypotheticals, Raoul did lay out what looked like the beginning of a platform. Asked why he would seek the office, he said, “The AG position as I see it is the state’s top advocacy position. There’s consumer advocacy and consumer protection aspects there, there’s advocacy for domestic violence protection and protection for victims.” Raoul mentioned keeping state laws up to speed with the creation of new synthetic drugs as another priority.

As for his chances in the statewide arena, Raoul is optimistic. “While I may be well-known in Hyde Park, the issues that I’ve been involved in haven’t been Hyde Park issues, they’ve been statewide issues, and I’ve traveled the state … I’ve developed, over the last eight-and-a-half years, strong relationships with my colleagues throughout the state, who I think will support me.”

As Raoul pointed out, he wouldn’t be the first state senator from Hyde Park to get such support. He was first appointed to fill the seat Barack Obama left vacant when elected to the U.S. Senate. As for the current reshuffle, though, Hyde Parkers will have to wait with Raoul to find out what Madigan will do.

“An incumbent has the luxury of time to make these decisions,” Raoul said.
According to news reports, other potential candidates include Lieutenant Gov. Sheila Simon and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

hpherald@hpherald.com