Candidates in Illinois attorney general race couldn't be more different

Evelyn Holmes Image
Thursday, March 22, 2018
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The Illinois attorney general rage promises to be contentious and is also making history.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Illinois attorney general race promises to be contentious and is also making history.

For a while after current Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she would not be running for a fifth term, it was anyone's guess who the nominees would be.

From a crowded field of contenders two candidates, who couldn't be more different, have emerged.

While talking about issues of gun violence and criminal justice reform, Raoul wasted no time going after his Republican opponent Erika Harold.

"These issues that disproportionately impact the African American community, I think I can speak better to them than my opponent," said Democratic nominee State Sen. Kwame Raoul.

"I hope that people see I bring something different to the table, but most importantly I want to be a strong advocate for all Illinoisans," Harold said.

The Harvard-educated attorney and former Miss America said despite the backing of the GOP and campaign contributions from Governor Bruce Rauner, who recruited her to run, she considers herself an independent reform-minded outsider.

Their comments came a day after both won their respective primary races that could have both historical and political implications, which both candidates acknowledge.

"I think all too often you have one political party that takes black voters for granted and another party that's not competing for their votes," Harold said.

"It's not so much what your skin color is, but what has been your connection to the community," Raoul said.

Raoul also enjoys his party's backing, but he and Harold couldn't be more different. While he took over the seat vacated by then-Senator Barack Obama in 2004, Harold is a relative newcomer. If she wins, she would become the first African American woman to hold the office.

Still, political pundit and conservative talk radio show host Charles Butler said the contest will come down to more than just race.

"I think that race is not going to be an issue in this race simply because it's two black people. I think that we need to look at the most qualified person," Butler said.

Political experts add while the contest may also highlight the value of the black vote, both candidates still have to run a statewide race.

Many may think this is the first time the two major parties have had African American candidates as their nominees in a statewide race. It has actually happened before, when conservative activist Alan Keyes was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate against Barack Obama in 2004.