Jim Ryan (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jim Ryan
40th Attorney General of Illinois
In office
January 9, 1995 – January 13, 2003
Governor Jim Edgar
George Ryan
Preceded by Roland Burris
Succeeded by Lisa Madigan
Personal details
Born (1946-02-21) February 21, 1946 (age 72)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Marie
Children 6
Alma mater Benedictine University
Illinois Institute of Technology

James E. Ryan[1] (born February 21, 1946) is an American politician who served two four-year terms as Illinois Attorney General. A career Republican, he received his party's nomination and ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Illinois against Rod Blagojevich in 2002. He has been a professor at Benedictine University since 2003.[1] He again ran for governor in 2010 and led incumbent Governor Pat Quinn in aggregate polling; but he failed to gain his party's nomination, coming in fourth in a field of seven candidates.[2]


Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois. Ryan's father Edward Ryan was a construction worker while his mother was an Italian immigrant housewife. He attended a Benedictine-run high school, Saint Procopius Academy (now Benet Academy). Upon graduating, Ryan went on to study at Saint Procopius College (now Benedictine University), where he obtained his bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1968. He then went on to Chicago-Kent College of Law where he obtained his J.D. in 1971.


Ryan entered the legal profession having found a position with the DuPage County State's Attorney office. After three years, he was promoted to first Assistant State's Attorney. In 1976, Ryan left the public sector to enter private practice. He worked at an independent law firm until 1984. That year, Ryan entered his first political race and won. He was sworn in as DuPage County State's Attorney, becoming the highest ranking prosecutor in the district. He was re-elected in 1988 and again in 1992.

Illinois Attorney General[edit]

Considered by local media as the most successful prosecutor in the state of Illinois, Ryan was urged to run for the state's highest legal office. In 1994, Ryan won an election to become Illinois Attorney General. He was reelected in 1998 with the endorsement of every major newspaper in the state. Ryan's most notable accomplishment as Illinois Attorney General was his $9.1 billion settlement from tobacco companies. It was the largest public judgment in the state's history.

Electoral history[edit]

2010 gubernatorial run[edit]

He ran for Governor of Illinois in 2010,[3] and lost the Republican primary to State Senator Bill Brady. He was on the receiving end of a great deal of controversy for his conduct in the erroneous prosecution of Rolando Cruz and Alex Hernandez in the Jeanine Nicarico murder case.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Ryan married Marie, a high school sweetheart, and had six children.

In 1996, Jim Ryan was diagnosed with Stage 2 non-Hodgkin lymphoma and began chemotherapy.[5] In January 1997, the youngest of Jim and Marie Ryan's six children, 12-year-old Anne Marie, collapsed and died of a brain tumor.[5][6][7] In October 1997, Marie Ryan suffered what appeared to be a near-fatal heart attack as the couple walked near their home;[5] the cause turned out to be a rare virus.[7]

On October 8, 2007, Elmhurst police found Ryan's son Patrick Ryan dead inside their home as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.[5][7]


  1. ^ a b "James E. Ryan: Distinguished Fellow". Lisle, Illinois: Benedictine University. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. 
  2. ^ [1] Archived February 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ [2] Archived November 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ James Warren (January 7, 2010). "When Running for Office, Be Careful What You Wish For". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d Kimberly, James (October 9, 2007). "Ryan son is found dead; Suspected suicide is latest tragedy for ex-attorney general". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Attorney general's daughter had brain tumor". Chicago Sun-Times. January 20, 1997. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c Gutowski, Christy (October 8, 2007). "Ex-attorney general's son dies in apparent suicide". Daily Herald. Arlington Heights, Illinois. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Roland Burris
Attorney General of Illinois
Succeeded by
Lisa Madigan
Party political offices
Preceded by
George Ryan
Republican nominee for Governor of Illinois
Succeeded by
Judy Topinka