Citing a statewide need to better combat crime and corruption, Republican Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran says he's seriously considering making a bid for attorney general.
And, he said, he would do so regardless of whether current Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan -- who is rumored to be weighing a run for governor but has not yet announced her intentions -- seeks re-election.
"I intend to run against her," said Curran, of Libertyville. "She's won by big margins in the past. But, look, I have a good feeling. Does everyone I say that to connect with me on that? No. But I think we (as a state) can do much better."
Curran says his "next step" is to continue to gather support through his exploratory committee. He plans a formal announcement come spring.
According to Curran's most recent filings with the state board of elections, he has just over $78,000 in his campaign war chest.
Curran, whose experience includes work in the Cook and Lake County state's attorney's offices and the Illinois attorney general's office, is two years into his second 4-year term as the county's top law enforcement officer. After running in 2006 as a Democrat to successfully unseat Republican Gary Del Re, he switched parties. While he describes himself as "definitely at home within the Republican party," he notes that he doesn't agree with the GOP on all issues.
A devout Catholic, Curran says his faith influences his position on various issues.
"I spend time daily in prayer and in Mass and seek spiritual counsel, and I feel that I'm prompted with clarity that I need to embrace, " he said.
Curran has grabbed recent attention statewide, testifying before lawmakers in Springfield to push a plan to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses.
It's an issue seen as important for statewide candidates in 2014 as Latino voters helped deliver Democrats big victories on Election Day in November.
As for the Lake County sheriff's position, at least one of the county's police chiefs has expressed interest.
Curran and Mundelein Chief Raymond J. Rose had lunch last week, Curran said.
Rose -- who in September announced his retirement, effective in January -- on Tuesday said he's "interested in considering" a bid, but plans to talk with his family about the decision first.
"It's absolutely possible," he said.
"Once I've had a chance to reflect on this, it will put me in a better position to make this final decision."