Despite the sordid general reputation of Illinois' politics, one office has stood out over the years as a shining example of good government.

The energetic, consumer-focused heritage of our attorney general's office dates back several decades and several stewards. It has made a difference in people's lives and we all can take pride in its work.

In many ways, we're torn between the two major-party candidates vying along with Libertarian Bubba Harsy to replace incumbent Lisa Madigan, who has been one of those good stewards.

There's a strong argument to be made on behalf of Erika Harold, an attorney from Urbana who would make fighting corruption one of her priorities. A state like Illinois could use more corruption fighters, of course, and the likelihood of a Democratic governor being elected with a legislature controlled by Democrats increases the value of having a Republican check on its power in the attorney general's office.

But there's a better argument to be made on behalf of Kwame Raoul, a state senator from Chicago with a great depth of understanding of the law and the passion and experience to use it actively on behalf of the citizenry in keeping with the traditions of the attorney general's office.

Whereas Raoul could be expected to confront federal infringement on vital Illinois interests such as clean water, the reality is that Harold would be unlikely to resist those challenges.

She argues that the job of the office is to uphold the law and thus personal views don't enter into it. But so much of the office's priorities are determined by the attorney general's priorities that it's simply inescapable that personal views would matter.

Illinois needs an activist attorney general. We endorse Raoul.