Democratic AG candidates vow to fight Trump policies
CHICAGO (AP) — Democratic candidates in the crowded field for Illinois attorney general vowed Monday to fight policies enacted by President Donald Trump’s administration during one of their first candidate forums ahead of the March primary.
While the candidates tried to distinguish themselves, they largely agreed on most issues. The participants said they rejected U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to overturn an Obama administration policy on federal marijuana enforcement. And they all said they would defend Illinois’ immigrant-friendly laws, including supporting Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city.
“The attorney general is the last line of defense against unconstitutional and hateful behavior by Donald Trump,” said former Gov. Pat Quinn, one of the candidates. Quinn lost a 2014 re-election bid and has served as state treasurer and lieutenant governor.
The contest is the only open one for a statewide constitutional office after Attorney General Lisa Madigan unexpectedly announced last year that she wasn’t seeking a fifth term. The primary is March 20.
The other candidates besides Quinn who attended the forum in Chicago were state Sen. Kwame Raoul, state Rep. Scott Drury, former Chicago police oversight administrator Sharon Fairley, Democratic ward committeeman Aaron Goldstein, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti and Chicago Park District Board President Jesse Ruiz. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, who is also running, didn’t attend the event hosted by college Democrats because she had to preside over a City Council meeting.
All the candidates pledged to do more to curb sexual harassment, particularly at the state Capitol in Springfield, which has been under scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement and accusations against at least one lawmaker.
Two candidates said the attorney general should do more to fight public corruption, including Drury, a former federal prosecutor, and Goldstein, who worked as a Cook County public defender.
“Illinois needs a corruption-fighting attorney general,” Drury said. “Illinois needs an attorney general that the people can trust.”
Drury was the only Democratic legislator last year not to vote for Mike Madigan as House speaker, who’s the nation’s longest-serving state House speaker and the father of Lisa Madigan.
There were a few light jabs at fellow candidates: Fairley said she wasn’t “a career politician” like some of those present. Mariotti said he wasn’t a Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointee, referring to Fairley.
But most of the candidates went after Trump.
Mariotti accused Trump of “undermining the role of law.” Goldstein went so far as to call Trump a “Nazi” for not overtly criticizing white nationalists during a protest last year in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Two Republicans have submitted candidate petitions, including attorney and former Miss America Erika Harold of Urbana.
Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.