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L. Nicole Trottie, Chief Editor
The political landscape shifts for Democrats as the announcement comes from House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie to not seek re-election another term is followed by the announcement from Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, to not seek another term in 2018.
Lisa Madigan, the daughter of 17-year House Speaker and Chairman Michael Madigan, gave no reason for her decision expect to note that other things lie ahead.
The sudden nature of her announcement was underscored by the fact that the state Democratic Party led by her father doesn’t have a clear successor groomed, according to a Tribune article. “It’s going to be a free-for-all,” one prominent Democratic leader said.
Last month, the Republican party announced Erika Harold, Harvard Law School graduate and former congressional candidate, would challenge Madigan. The GOP noted Harvard is, “an exceptionally strong candidate.”
Several interested candidates have emerged from the Democratic Party. state Sen. Kwame Raoul, a 13-year South Side lawmaker, in Hyde Park, has long expressed interest in the job. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was named among other prominent Democrats, as well as state Rep. Chris Welch, 7th District, Maywood.
Raoul said he was “seriously looking” at running and said he would make a final decision “in the next few days.”
Raul, an attorney and former assistant Cook County prosecutor, has an extensive track-record working on issues of criminal justice reform, gun policy and serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Raoul would not jeopardize his Senate post, not on the 2018 ballot, by making a run for AG.
Welch said in an interview with ABC 7 news, that he is giving the decision serious consideration. Welch said of a possible run, “I will discuss my options with my family before circulating signature petitions”.
According to a Tribune report other names have surfaced as well, including. “state Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park and state Rep. Elgie Sims of Chicago. Their legislative seats are up for election next year, so a run for attorney general would mean risking their spots. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is not on the ballot in 2018. Even a former ambassador to the Czech Republic under former President Barack Obama, attorney Andrew Schapiro, is considering a bid, an aide said.”
Speaker Michael J. Madigan suit
Madigan’s decision not to seek re-election comes less than two weeks after the opening of the period for candidates to gather petition signatures to get on the the March primary ballot. Her decision also comes less than two day’s on the heels of a federal judge’s ruling on Wednesday, Sep 13, allowing a law suit by Madigan’s former primary challenger to move forward.
Jason Gonzales alleges that Madigan put up “two sham candidates with Hispanic last names to split up the Hispanic vote” in order to defeat him in the March 2016 primary, according to the ruling. Allegations that Madigan used his authority and political influence to damage and discredit his opponent had previously been overlooked.
Successful bidders need a big cushion
Candidates need at least 5,000 valid signatures and can submit a maximum of 10,000 to the State Board of Elections by Dec. 4.
The successful bidder requires a hefty political war chest, particularly for Democratic hopefuls. Rauner could use his vast resources to finance the Republican candidate. JB Pritzker and Chris Kennedy also have the wealth to throw in support behind the Democratic pick.
Madigan had $2.3 million in campaign funds in her political bank account for re-election as of the end of June.
State finance disclosure reports show Harmon, a member of the Democratic Senate leadership team, and Oak Park Township Committeemen, with $662,000 in his campaign bank account, ahead of Dart’s $470,000 and Raoul’s $340,000.
Harold has raised at least $40,000.