4 The Record

Kwame Raoul maintains prosecutorial experience qualifies him for Illinois AG

Democratic nominee: Legal action alone won't stop gang and gun violence

A lot of attention surrounding this year's midterm elections in Illinois and Iowa are on the governor's races.

Rightly so.

A lot of money is being spent in those contests.

So is the race to replace Lisa Madigan as Illinois Attorney General.
    
Her decision to not seek re-election attracted a big field for the Democrats.

Eight candidates fought for their party's nomination. Two republicans fought it out in the primary.

Democrat Kwame Raoul won his party's nomination in the March primary. Erika Harold did so for the Republicans.
    
They're now in a battle for the job in November.

Raoul already massively outspent his opponent in the race.

A lot of that leading up to the primary.

Raoul spent more than $3 million from the fourth quarter of 2017 through the second quarter of 2018.

Harold has only spent $423,000 so far.

Clearly, Raoul's raising more money. He has $784,000 in his campaign account. That's more than triple the $232,000 for Harold.

Raoul is a Chicago native. He graduated from DePaul University with a political science degree, got his law degree from Kent College in Chicago, worked as a Cook County prosecutor and has been a state senator since 2004 when he was appointed to take over the seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became a United States senator.

It's easy for a lot of people to overlook this race given the huge amount of money being spent in Illinois' governor's race. We will not.
    
Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul joined 4 The Record for a conversation this week.

Raoul talked about his significant fundraising advantage over Harold and if money is buying this election.

"I came out of a very competitive eight-way primary," Raoul said. "We had an embarrassment of riches. I was running against a former governor who had a huge name recognition advantage and I was trying to communicate above the noise -- or through the noise -- of a competitive gubernatorial race where far more money than I spent was spent on the airwaves. So it's very difficult to communicate through that noise and I'm well aware of that. "

Democrats have held the office since Lisa Madigan took over 15 years ago. Democrats control the state legislature and have a decent chance at winning back the governor's office.

Raoul addressed whether this is too much power for one party to have and why a Republican attorney general wouldn't be able to provide an important check, given the history of corruption in Illinois politics by members of both parties.

"I've prided myself over the course of my career in working in a bipartisan manner," Raoul said. "In my case, I have 25 years of practicing law, I have served as a prosecutor, I've tried cases both in state an federal court, I've argued cases at the appellate level. I've worked on the policy front. I've passed laws protecting voting rights, protecting victims of sexual assault. ... I was not a recruited candidate by anybody. ... I decided to run in the race, it was a very competitive primary and I prevailed in an independent way."

Part of Raoul's campaign focuses on criminal justice reform and your work in the senate. Raoul could play a bigger role as attorney general on issues such as recreational marijuana being legalized in Illinois.

"I think we should definitely evaluate it," Raoul said. "The state has taken steps in that direction. We've embraced the use of medical cannabis. We've decriminalized the use of small amounts. But we have to be careful. The devil is always in the details. One of the things is we can't stick our heads in the sand and pretend that it's not out there widespread right now. To the extent that we can 'control' it, the devil is always in the details. To what extent do we control the use and prevent the use of cannabis by young people?"

Raoul also talked about how he would address gang and gun violence as attorney general and how important it is to take a tough stance on prosecutions.

Watch the full conversation in the video above.

Tune in to Local 4 every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It's a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Moderator and Local 4 News anchor Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what's happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.


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