For the first time in 16 years, someone not named Madigan is about to occupy the Illinois attorney general’s seat.
That explains why eight Democrats have put their names forward in hopes of succeeding Lisa Madigan. It’s an accomplished field — former Gov. Pat Quinn, state Sen. Kwame Raoul, state Rep. Scott Drury, former State Board of Education Chairman/current Chicago Park Board President Jesse Ruiz, former federal prosecutors Sharon Fairley and Renato Mariotti, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, Cook County public defender Aaron Goldstein. In any given primary, there are four or five among them we could comfortably endorse.
Alas, voters can choose but one.
On the issues — how they’d negotiate the conflicts that can emerge between the citizens they’d represent, the state government they’d counsel, the constitution to which they’d swear on oath; how they square their position on sanctuary cities with the rule of law; whether public corruption should be more vigorously pursued; what criminal justice reforms they support; their commitment to environmental and consumer protections; how they’d deal with allegations of sexual harassment; their dedication to enforcing Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings law, etc. — there’s a lot of consensus here. For the most part, their positions are what you’d expect from Democrats.
Among them is one who’s already spent time in this office, who’s been a federal prosecutor on cases running the gamut from narcotics trafficking to espionage to fraud, who helped create and run a sizeable agency dedicated to greater police accountability in Chicago following the 2014 Laquan McDonald fatal shooting — no easy assignment.
Among them is one who says fighting political corruption must be a priority with expanded grand jury and subpoena powers for the office. Among them is one who would not have defended the state’s 2013 pension reform law on the basis that it was clearly unconstitutional, as the Illinois Supreme Court would confirm. Among them is one who says the office must be aggressive in combating federal overreaches that compromise civil liberties. Among them is one who, unlike some opponents, will not accept campaign contributions from any entity already on the AG’s radar screen.
Among them is one who speaks with deep understanding, perspective and conviction on many an issue, who combines administrative experience with political fearlessness, who brags an independence permitted by owing no one.
Raoul and Quinn may be the front-runners, and both have their strengths. But for us Sharon Fairley, 57, has “the full package” for this very important post in a state where for too long, the fix has been in, and she is endorsed.