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Raoul declares victory over Devore in the Illinois attorney general race

After a campaign filled with emotion on issues including crime and the state’s response to the pandemic, Democrat Kwame Raul declared victory Tuesday over Republican Thomas DeVore in his bid for a second term as Illinois attorney general.

With 59% of precincts precincts, Raoul had 56% of the vote, while DeVore, the state’s attorney, had 41%, according to unofficial results. Raul’s double-digit lead trails other Democratic candidates, including Gov. J. B. Pritzker.

Raul addressed supporters at the Offshore Rooftop at Navy Pier around 10:15 p.m

In the race, Raul had a significant cash advantage. DeVore often teamed up on the campaign trail with the GOP gubernatorial candidate, state Sen. Darren Bailey, who lost in a landslide on Tuesday.

Shortly before the polls closed Tuesday night, DeVore expressed optimism. “I think (Democrats) underestimated how unhappy the people of this state are with what they’ve done over the last few years,” DeVore told the Tribune after arriving at Oak Brook’s Drake Hotel for his campaign party.

Raul joined Pritzker and other Democrats at the top of the ticket in rallies targeting black voters and labor groups in the final days of the election. Raul said of his opponent during an earlier online forum that DeVore “shouldn’t be allowed at the door of the attorney general’s office.”

The two disagreed sharply on most issues, chief among them Pritzker’s pandemic-related orders. Raul’s office has repeatedly battled Devore in court to protect the state from lawsuits challenging Pritzker’s mask mandate and other executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Although there has been no final decision on any of the more than 30 lawsuits Devore has filed against the state, he has succeeded in temporarily halting some of Pritzker’s rules. The lawsuit served as a springboard for DeVore’s campaign, as the political unknown from downstate Sorrento steadily rose to prominence.

At 53, the civilian attorney’s only experience in elected office was a two-year stint on the Bond County Board more than a decade ago. DeVore, who has the words “liberty” and “freedom” tattooed on his forearms, argued that his willingness to take on the governor in court is proof that he will rein in government power and excess if elected.

But DeVore didn’t come close to Raoul in fundraising efforts. DeVore began July with less than $16,000 in his campaign fund after winning the GOP primary, in which he was significantly outpaced by a second-place finisher on a ticket backed by billionaire Ken Griffin. As of early Tuesday, DeVore said he had raised more than $500,000 in additional contributions, about half of which came from a loan he made to his campaign, which lifted contribution limits for both candidates.

Raoul received $1 million from Pritzker’s campaign fund when the limits were lifted and, as of Monday, said he had raised more than $1.1 million in other contributions since July 1. That’s on top of the $1.1 million in cash it had on hand at the end of June.

DeVore has attacked Raoul for being too close to Pritzker, repeatedly calling the current attorney general the governor’s “dog.” Raúl dismissed such criticism, arguing that his independence is not for sale.

Raul, 58, a former Cook County prosecutor from Chicago who succeeded Barack Obama in the Illinois Senate, representing parts of the city’s South Side, before being elected four years ago to replace former Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

In response to Devor’s criticism, Raul argued that his office was on the right side of the law and public health in defending the state’s actions in the fight against the pandemic and thus helped save lives.

DeVore also sued Pritzker for defamation after the governor called him a “fraudster” during a news conference in response to a question about DeVore’s legal challenges to the pandemic mandates. Raoult’s office defended Pritzker against the defamation charge, but DeVore later dropped the suit.

The attorney general accused Devore of wasting the court’s time on what he considered frivolous claims. In addition to Pritzker, Devore has sued in recent years special education teacher and two others for sharing a Facebook post in which DeVore called students working at a school kiosk “window lickers” and the mother of his girlfriend, whom he accuses of posting a disparaging article under a pseudonym.

Raul said DeVore’s largely unsuccessful lawsuits showed he was unqualified for the position. He also pointed to DeVore’s social media comments indicating that, if elected, he might investigate political opponents, including Pritzker, and Cook County District Attorney Kim Fox, whom DeVore has criticized as being too soft on criminals.

DeVore accused the incumbent of not being aggressive enough in fighting crime as attorney general. The GOP challenger’s main criticism has been about the SAFE-T Act, the sweeping criminal justice legislation that Pritzker signed. Among other changes, it will end cash bail from January 1.

The law allows judges to keep defendants behind bars pending trial if they are a flight risk or a danger to the community, but Republicans say it will empty prisons and lead to more violence. The measure faces a flurry of legal challenges from prosecutors in several counties.

DeVore argued that the law was unconstitutional, taking issue with how it was enacted as well as its content. He promised to work to have the measure repealed if elected.

Raoul, who supported the SAFE-T Act, acknowledged he is concerned about potential ambiguities in the broad law and has spoken of the need for lawmakers and prosecutors to work together to clarify some provisions.

In his first term, the attorney general created the Organized Retail Crime Task Force to stop smash-and-grab crimes. He also pushed for stronger federal “ghost gun” regulations to combat homemade weapons. Raúl promised to try to expand the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor General in corruption cases if re-elected.

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While crime has dominated much of the race, Raoul has also emphasized his support for abortion rights, including defending his office against a lawsuit challenging a state law enshrining access to the procedure as a “fundamental right.” The lawsuit challenges a provision in the law that requires health plans that offer pregnancy care to also provide abortion coverage.

DeVore called himself “pro-life” but said he would continue to defend the state’s reproductive health law if elected because he is not aware of any constitutional problems with it.

Under Rowley, the attorney general’s office played an active role in protecting the rights of transgender people and the broader LGBTQ community. But Devore said his approach to such social issues, which he said he would not actively litigate, marks a “fundamental difference” between him and Raul.

Libertarian candidate Daniel K. Robin, a 45-year-old attorney from Schaumburg, was also on the ballot and only received about 2 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.





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