Raoul, in town for Frerichs' endorsement: 'It's time to refresh leadership'

Raoul, in town for Frerichs' endorsement: 'It's time to refresh leadership'

URBANA — Democratic attorney general candidate Kwame Raoul said his priority in the office would be to confront gun violence and examine reasons behind shootings.

Raoul, a state senator from Chicago, is one of eight Democratic candidates hoping to succeed Lisa Madigan as Illinois attorney general. He was in Champaign-Urbana on Tuesday in part to be endorsed by state Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Champaign County native.

Also Tuesday, Raoul said that House Speaker Michael Madigan should step down as head of the Democratic Party of Illinois as a way to "refresh" the party leadership.

But Frerichs declined to take a similar position.

"Today I'm here to talk about supporting Sen. Kwame Raoul and how he reflects the new generation here," Frerichs said.

Raoul, however, was eager to address the issue, equating Madigan's 20 years as head of the state Democratic Party with the long political history of Pat Quinn, his chief opponent for attorney general.

He said Madigan should step down not because of recent allegations of sexual harassment within the party but because "I'm one who has advocated for passing the baton.

"I was happy when Mike Frerichs was elected treasurer. It represented a new generation of leadership coming in. I advocate for that at all levels, including at the very top of the party, not because of the scandal but just because it's time to refresh leadership."

He extended his remarks to include Quinn, who until 2015 was governor of Illinois.

"I think it's a healthy thing for us to refresh leadership whether it's the Democratic Party or Republican Party," Raoul said. "I'm running against somebody who has run for office every cycle since (Democrat Michael) Dukakis was running for president (in 1988). There's something wrong with that, and I think we're in a relay race. I think advocating for people and fighting for good policy is a relay race. And in a relay race you pass the baton."

Frerichs added that Quinn "has run for every state office but one (comptroller). And I would agree with Sen. Raoul that it's time for the next generation to step forward and for people who have run for other offices and who have held other offices to step aside and let a newer generation with more energy and fresh ideas represent the party."

Raoul said he would "certainly maintain" Lisa Madigan's emphasis on consumer protection, "but one of the aspects we've been talking a lot about lately — and it grows out of the mass shooting in Florida — is gun violence."

He noted that lawmakers recently sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner a bill that would allow the state to license gun dealers.

"I think the Illinois attorney general can be more engaged than it historically has been in that aspect of preventing gun violence," Raoul said. "We have to get to the origin of these and we have to track how they're exchanged in the marketplace to get to people who transfer them to people they know will do wrong."

And he noted that as attorney general he would be a member of the board of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, where he could direct resources to violence prevention.

"I don't think there is a gun offender that I know of who came out of the womb with a gun in their hands," said Raoul, who once worked in the Cook County state's attorney's office. "We have to examine what happened in their life in between the time they were born and the time that a gun was put in their hand to make them think that it was OK to go out and shoot somebody. I think part of that connects to the attorney general's office's capacity to direct victim's resources."

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DEB wrote on March 07, 2018 at 9:03 am

Well, good for him. I think local boy, Mike Frerichs has done a great job; he's not injected partisanship into his office, and he's remembered that his Central Illinois home is an important part of the state that deserves service and consideration in State government. 

But, while I am not a fan of former Gov. Quinn. It is clear that if the Democrats want to keep the Attorney General seat, they need to have somebody with name recognition (and, for much of the downstate vote, somebody white). I'm embarrased as a human to say that Kwame Raoul is a loser in part because of his race and even more because of his name. It would be almost impossible for him to beat the beauty queen from CU who is the likely Republican nominee (sorry, I'm forgetting her name and what contest she won, but with a "white sounding" name, a light complexion, and a Republican partisanship, she will carry downstate quite heavily against a dark complection black name Kwame Raoul).

Anyway, the only hope the Dems have of keeping the Attorney General seat in Democratic Party hands is through Pat Quinn. I know that sounds racist, harsh, and unfair. But as a political consultant, campaign adviser, political commentator, and Republican activist (but more like Ike, I'M NOT a Trumpista), I think I know what I'm talking about.