Birkett discusses run for IL AG

July 3, 2009 5:17:05 PM PDT
DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett wants another job.On Friday, Birkett talked with ABC7 about his decision to run for Illinois attorney general.

"I was encouraged to run for governor. Obviously, I am grateful for that. I'm flattered by the encouragement. But, at the end of the day, I'm convinced that in my heart I'm a prosecutor and I think I can have an immediate impact as the attorney general," said Birkett.

The 54-year-old DuPage County prosecutor has won two statewide primaries: the Republican nomination for attorney general in 2002 and lieutenant governor in 2006. And, despite being Illinois party's top vote-getter in the past decade, he has never won a statewide general election.

"This is a perfect climate for some Republican victories up and down the ticket both in the House and the Senate, and also at the statewide level," said Birkett.

Birkett insisted his decision to run for lieutenant governor on the 2006 ticket topped by Judy Baar Topinka was not a mistake. Back then, he says, it was all he could do to try and get rid of Rod Blagojevich.

Next February, he might be opposed on the primary ballot by state representative Jim Durkin of Western Springs.

"I'm also giving consideration to that office as well. And I'll make my decision at the appropriate time," said Jim Durkin.

"Whether or not I have a primary is really not the issue. I want to be the attorney general for the state of Illinois," said Birkett.

In the 2002 general election, Birkett lost to Attorney General Lisa Madigan by fewer than three percentage points. In 2010, if Madigan does not decide to run for governor or U.S. Senate, the former amateur boxing champion would take a rematch.

"If she runs for some other office, fine. If she decides to stay, fine. It's going to be an exciting race. I'm looking forward to the challenge," said Birkett.

And Birkett -- who grew up in a family of Democrats on Chicago's West Side -- responded to his critics who say he lost the attorney general's race eight years ago because his politics were too far to the right.

"I am a conservative Republican but on some issues there may be disagreements from both side. So maybe I'm more to the middle than people think," said Birkett.

Birkett says he hopes voters see his softer side during the 2010 campaign. He also praised Lisa Madigan's performance during her two terms in office. He seemed confident that Madigan was moving on to the senate or governor's race.

Charles has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.


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