Raoul takes victory lap at Valois

State Sen. Kwame Raoul (13th) greets a supporter at the Valois Cafeteria, 1518 E. 53rd St., the day after being elected Illinois Attorney General. (Photo by Aaron Gettinger)

Staff Writer

Diners cheered State Sen. Kwame Raoul (13th) as he celebrated his successful campaign for Illinois Attorney General with a visit to Valois Cafeteria in Hyde Park on Wednesday afternoon.

At a short press conference, he reflected on being a Hyde Park politician, the Chicago Police consent decree and the just-announced forced resignation of U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions following the midterm elections.

Raoul pointed to Hyde Park elected officials’ historical independent streaks to stress that he is not a machine politician in thrall to State House Speaker Michael Madigan, a charge lobbed at him throughout the campaign.

“I continue to hold that,” he said. “Of course, the speaker, who’s head of the party, chose to support me over my Republican and Libertarian opponents. I am proud to be from Hyde Park.”

When asked about Sessions’ departure, Raoul noted that both he and President Donald Trump disliked him, though he worried the new attorney general “might be more threatening that even Jeff Sessions was.” Raoul said the development only increases his new office’s nationwide importance.

Raoul’s predecessor, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan (D), was instrumental in drafting the consent decree that the city and Chicago Police Department enacted following the Laquan McDonald murder and coverup after Sessions’ Justice Department dropped its involvement, and Raoul will now play a role in enforcing it.

He stressed that the decree will not conclude anytime soon; police reforms stemming from it will take time to implement before parties can “gauge whether or not it’s time to come off of the consent decree.”

“I imagine well into my term — at least well into my first term if not a second term, if I’m so lucky to have one — there’ll be continued attention from the AG’s office on the consent decree,” he said.

With nearly all precincts reporting, Raoul was elected with around 54 percent of the vote, with his opponent, Republican Erika Harold, taking 43.5 percent. Raoul won Chicagoland and Rock Island, Champaign and St. Clair counties, the latter containing Metro East St. Louis suburbs, as well as two others in Little Egypt.

Hyde Park–Kenwood voters gave their state senator a landslide: 14,660 out of 16,004 votes, or 91.5 percent. Raoul carried 80 percent of Chicago voters in all.