Kane County state's attorney mulling run for attorney general

Having recently gained the national spotlight, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon confirmed his interest Thursday in a statewide run to become the next Illinois attorney general.

But his final decision will hinge on his ability to do justice to the heavy workload on his docket.

McMahon, a Republican, became state's attorney in 2010, but it was just this past summer that his name came onto the national media scene for his appointment as a special prosecutor in the Laquan McDonald murder case. McMahon is still knee-deep in that prosecution.

He's also juggling several pending lawsuits in Kane County, including a potential $60 million judgment involving a drug-treatment center application rejected by the county board.

McMahon said the workload he's faced is precisely why he'd be a good fit for attorney general.

"I think the people of this state want leadership and experience," McMahon said. "The Illinois attorney general has important responsibilities, and our state is in desperate need of experienced leadership. I can provide that.

"In my view, it's a nonpartisan office, and it's a bipartisan office. I've pursued gang members and drug dealers. And I put victims and their families first. I have a record of fighting public corruption and being someone who will remain independent of the warring factions in Springfield."

Aside from the McDonald case, McMahon has made headlines for his battles with Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen over maintaining an independent office. That's even meant calling out Lauzen for improperly hiring an outside law firm for consulting work.

McMahon has also repeatedly pushed back attempts by the county board to impose financial controls on other county elected officials outside the bounds of the state constitution.

McMahon may have to lean on the political scars earned from those battles as a run for attorney general. The race would mark his first statewide campaign. Having been appointed to the office of Kane County state's attorney, and running unopposed since then, the race would be the first competitive contest in his political career.

Republican Erika Harold announced her candidacy in August. She's already racked up a slew of top endorsements, including most of the Illinois Republican congressional delegation. McMahon said he's not concerned about a late start.

"I've heard from many people about the reality of running a statewide campaign," McMahon said. "I'm honored that others have expressed their support for me. And I recognize that timing is important and of the essence."

McMahon said he has a team circulating petitions right now. He will sit down with his family and make a final decision within the next one to three weeks.

Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon was sworn in as the special prosecutor in the Laquan McDonald murder trial just this passed August. McMahon is prosecuting Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke on first-degree murder charges stemming from the 2014 shooting of the teenager caught on police dashcam video. Daily Herald File Photo, August 2017, Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune, Pool
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