Sen. Kwame Raoul may enter democratic race for Illinois governor

July 22, 2013 4:27:34 PM PDT
ABC7's political reporter Charles Thomas has learned another candidate might enter the democratic race for Illinois Governor. State senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) says he is giving it serious consideration.

Raoul was poised to run for attorney general if incumbent Lisa Madigan had run for governor. Now that Madigan has decided to stay put, Raoul has "pivoted" as he put it, and is now sizing up a gubernatorial campaign.

"You know, you don't rule out anything. So I haven't ruled out anything. But my focus right now is this pension reform problem," said Sen. Raoul.

Sen. Raoul, who chairs the House-Senate Conference Committee on Pension Reform, criticized Governor Pat Quinn and former commerce secretary Bill Daley for making pensions an issue in the young campaign.

"There's also responsibility in doing that particularly when you have an issue as sensitive as the one we're dealing with right now. A responsibility to be truthful and not just sensationalize things," said Sen. Raoul.

Sen. Raoul calls Quinn's veto of legislative paychecks an unconstitutional stunt and says Daley sensationalizes the issue when he calls on Quinn to lock pension reform negotiators in the Governor's mansion.

"And no one leave until they come to a resolution. This is what a leader would do," said William Daley, democratic candidate for governor.

"It's a very delicate negotiation and every time somebody does something like that, it does a disservice to the negotiations," said Raoul.

"There's always going to be people on the sidelines, sniping away," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Governor's strong support among African-Americans could be threatened by Raoul, a 48-year-old Hyde Park attorney who took Barack Obama's Senate seat in 2004. He authored the bill that abolished the state's death penalty and this year, helped negotiate the new concealed carry law.

He says he will not make a decision on the Governor's race until after his conference committee finishes work on pension reform.

"Once we take care of this problem, politics will take care of itself," said Sen. Raoul.

Sen. Raoul raised about $400,000 for a not-to-happen attorney general's campaign. That's far behind the amounts already raised by the Governor and Mr. Daley.

But in recent years, underfunded African-American candidates have fared well in statewide democratic primaries where black voters can make up to 35% of turnout.


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