Local candidate Kwame Raoul wins Democrat primary race for Attorney General

State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) won the Democratic race for Attorney General in the 2018 Primary Election Tuesday, March 20. – Spencer Bibbs

By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
Herald Intern

After a neck-and-neck race with former Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn, State Senator Raoul Kwame (D-13) won the race for Illinois Attorney General in the Democrat Primary Election Tuesday night.

Raoul led the primary election’s polling race by roughly 3 percent throughout the night, as supporters filled his watch party event at the Sheraton Hotel, 317 E. North Water St.

The Associated Press called Erika Harold the winner of the Republican nomination in the race to replace Lisa Madigan early Tuesday night.

“Lisa Madigan has done an awesome job,” said Raoul after his victory speech. “When I’m successful in November, I have some big shoes to fill. She has been a champion of consumer protection, she has been a champion of domestic violence and sexual assault, and I will continue her work and will stand for her work. I will be your next attorney general.”

Raoul approached the podium with his two children, and announced to the crowd that he had received a “very gracious congratulations” concession call from Quinn moments before.

“Tonight we celebrate,” said Hanah Jubeh, the senior advisor in Raoul’s campaign. “But tomorrow we get back to work.”

Jubeh added that Raoul had “a strong record advocating for the community” and that he would uphold his promise “to protect immigrants from President [Donald] Trump’s policies.”

Raoul is a Chicago native and son of Haitian immigrants, who received support from the Cook County Democratic Party earlier this year for his candidacy to the attorney general role.

Raoul, a lifelong resident of the Hyde Park – Kenwood neighborhood serving his 13th year in the Illinois General Assembly was the second Democrat to get into the Democratic contest for the attorney general candidacy following Madigan’s announcement in September of last year that she would not seek a fifth term.

Raoul, 53, who reinstated in his victory speech that he wanted to pursue “criminal justice reforms” and “fight President Trump’s immigration policies” if elected, is former assistant Cook County prosecutor who was appointed to the Illinois State Senate in 2004 to fill the vacancy left in the 13th Legislative District after former President Barack Obama was appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Following his appointment as senator, Raoul was elected to a full term in 2006 and re-elected to office in 2010, 2012, and 2016. As of the 2018 election, Raoul has served as the chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee and vice chairman of the State Senate Criminal Law Committee, according to the Illinois General Assembly.

In the past, Raoul has served in significant roles in the Democratic-controlled State Senate, including sponsoring legislation that would abolish the death penalty law in Illinois. Since then, Raoul has continued to push legislation addressing law enforcement misconduct, racial disparities in traffic stops, and prison overcrowding to name a few.

If Raoul were to be elected as attorney general in the Nov. 6, 2018 general election, the state constitution mandates that his seat must be filled by appointment within 30 days after the vacancy in January 2019.

“It would be the same process that got him originally to the State Senate after Barack Obama relinquished his seat,” said Raoul’s spokesperson Ron Holmes.

The appointment will be interim until the next general election, where a special election must be held. Vacancies in the House and Senate are to be filled by an appointment from the same political party that last held the seat. Independent party candidates have until June 25, 2018 to file.

hpherald@hpherald.com