The race for Illinois attorney general is one of those statewide elections that often get overlooked until voters pull up their ballots in the voting booth.
That is more than unfortunate. The office provides protections for, among other things, consumers, the environment, health care, access to government information, as well as public safety. If not occupied by the right person, it also could offer an obstructionist an opening to play with our rights and our elections. Responsibility is an important job requirement.
This is not a race to go to sleep on.
The candidates are Democratic incumbent Kwame Raoul of Chicago; Republican attorney Tom DeVore of downstate Greenville; and Libertarian Dan Robin, a retired attorney from Schaumburg who has no likelihood of being elected.
We endorse Raoul for reelection. He strikes us as a devoted public servant who has performed generally well in his first term, working to stop child predators, to ensure equal rights and to protect access to health care. The office has played a stronger role under his watch of helping to combat violent crime and we have been happy to see him involve it in some ethics cases as well.
We were particularly impressed with the tenacity he showed in joining, ultimately with success, the comptroller’s effort to take the egregious case of two lawmakers, fellow Democrats, to the Illinois Supreme Court to make sure they did not get back pay they had voted to surrender during the depths of the recession.
DeVore, Raoul’s unconventional opponent, has run a feisty campaign worthy of note.
Branded largely as a right-wing crackpot by Democrats eager to lump Republicans into an extremist MAGA basket — a stereotype encouraged by DeVore himself with a campaign photo displaying huge “Night of the Hunter”-style tattoos shouting “FREEDOM” and “LIBERTY” across his right and left forearms –, DeVore’s candidacy ought not be dismissed with such simplistic political labeling.
He raises questions worthy of asking: Why did Gov. JB Pritzker respond to the COVID-19 crisis with an ongoing series of “emergency” directives rather than collaborating with the legislature as the pandemic allowed time for planning? Do the controversial SAFE-T Act restrictions on cash bail fail constitutional separation of powers stipulations as several county state’s attorneys suggest? Should not prosecutors be held to account if they habitually fail to prosecute?
Still, we have concerns about DeVore. He has a tendency to respond to critics with lawsuits. He used a slur to disparage children, if not special needs children, in a widely publicized controversy five years ago. His distrust of the news media runs so deep that it limits public access to him and we fear it would in office as well. We suspect that if elected, DeVore would constantly be warring with political opponents at all levels. But he’s not the gadfly he’s made out to be, and he raises questions that should be debated seriously.
Meanwhile, four years ago, we endorsed Raoul based on his depth of understanding of the law, his experience and his passion on behalf of public service.
He has not disappointed. He has been an activist attorney general who has upheld the energetic decadeslong consumer-focused traditions of the attorney general’s office.
Raoul has earned another term.