Raoul declares victory over Harold in attorney general race to replace Lisa Madigan

 
 
Updated 11/6/2018 11:41 PM
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  • Kwame Raoul gets on stage to address the crowd during his election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

    Kwame Raoul gets on stage to address the crowd during his election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

  • Illinois Attorney General Elect Kwame Raoul address the crowd at his election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

    Illinois Attorney General Elect Kwame Raoul address the crowd at his election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

State Sen. Kwame Raoul handily defeated his Republican opponent Erika Harold to become Illinois' next attorney general.

But the victory was bittersweet for Raoul who lost his father 15 years ago Tuesday.

"He never held public office, but his life was dedicated to public service," Raoul said. "I have done my best to honor his legacy by advocating for the vulnerable and advancing justice for those who believe our legal system has forgotten them."

"This campaign was just the audition for the work that is to come."

With about 97 percent of precincts reporting, the Chicago Democrat tallied 2,290,816 votes to Harold's 1,841,395, a margin of 54 percent to 43 percent. Libertarian candidate Bubba Harsy received 108,140 or 2.5 percent.

All election results are unofficial.

In an early concession, Harold said her campaign had been "profoundly outspent" but that she wishes Raoul well.

"I told him that I would be rooting for him to do an exceptional job as attorney general," said Harold, a Champaign attorney and former Miss America. "We need an attorney general who will be able to take the politics out of the office and bring all of us together."

The race to replace incumbent Lisa Madigan marked the first time two African Americans ran against each other in a general election for Illinois attorney general.

Same-sex marriage emerged as one of the most contentious issues during the campaign, in which both candidates accused each other of having held discriminatory views.

The issue arose during the primary when NBC 5 Chicago cited unnamed sources who said that in 2000, Harold said during the Miss Illinois pageant that if she had to place a child in foster care, she would place the child with a heterosexual couple who were known child abusers rather than with a same-sex couple.

Harold said she did not remember the exchange. She said if that was her answer it was wrong and does not reflect her opinion that people who want to foster or adopt children should not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

Raoul, during a Daily Herald editorial board meeting, admitted that he had expressed discriminatory views as a boy but that his views have evolved.

The candidates differed markedly on other social issues including abortion rights and whether Illinois' attorney general should take on an advocacy role, weighing in on such issues as health care, environmental regulations and immigration.

Arguing for what would seem to be a more activist role, Raoul said the attorney general should "play a leadership role in the litigation that impacts the entire country."

Harold said she would weigh in on such matters only if there was an Illinois law at stake or if there was a constitutional issue and the state had standing.

"If a case met that criteria, the attorney general would be obligated to file a lawsuit," she said.

Both candidates placed fighting public corruption as a primary priority but says the office needs the tools to investigate allegations and prosecute charges. To that end, Harold proposed expanding the power of the attorney general to convene statewide grand juries. Raoul said he wants to devote more resources to the office's public access counselor, who assists with Freedom on Information Act requests and intervenes in complaints about the lack of access to public documents or improperly closed public meetings.

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