Kwame Raoul

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Kwame Raoul
Kwame Raoul RFCG.jpg
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 13th district
Assumed office
November 6, 2004
Preceded by Barack Obama
Personal details
Born (1964-09-30) September 30, 1964 (age 53)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Children 2
Education DePaul University (BA)
Illinois Institute of Technology (JD)

Kwame Raoul (born September 30, 1964) is an American lawyer and politician serving as a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate. He has represented the 13th district since 2004 -- he was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Barack Obama, upon Obama's election to the U.S. Senate. He is the chair of the Illinois Senate's Redistricting Committee and the Senate's Pension & Investments Committee.[1]

Raoul is the Democratic Party's nominee for Attorney General of Illinois in the 2018 election.

Early life[edit]

Raoul was born in Chicago to Haitian immigrant parents Dr. Janin and Marie Therese Raoul. Raoul earned his bachelor's degree in political science from DePaul University and went on to receive his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Senate career[edit]

Raoul was appointed on November 6, 2004 to fill the state Senate vacancy caused by the resignation of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who had just been elected to the United States Senate.

Since his arrival in Springfield, Raoul has successfully advanced legislation promoting civil justice, early childhood education, domestic violence prevention and political reform. In his first year in the General Assembly, Raoul established a progressive agenda. His work led to the passage of laws expanding access to early voting in Illinois, and the state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program and a crack down on the Pay Day loan industry.

Raoul has sponsored a bill that would require grants distributed by Illinois State Board of Education to early childhood education and preschool programs to be used to improve and expand the quality of services. He has also backed legislation aimed at easing the reintegration of ex-offenders into the community. His legislation allows good conduct credit to be awarded to inmates who earn their high school diplomas or GEDs, as well as inmates who participate in substance abuse programs.

Raoul has championed legislation on criminal justice reform including the recent historic legislation that abolishes the death penalty and legislation creating the Torture Inquiry Commission. He also championed legislation aimed at breaking the code of silence by deterring intimidation of those who cooperate with law enforcement officers.

Raoul has supported efforts to create and retain jobs in the State of Illinois including convention center reforms and a multibillion dollars capital bill. He has been the chief sponsor of legislation to extend the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit to companies in order to retain and create jobs in our state. He recently championed the effort to pass comprehensive workers compensation reform that will save Illinois employers in excess of half a billion dollars.

As chairman of the Senate’s Pension and Investment Committee, Sen. Raoul has fought hard for pension ethics reform and has led efforts to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned financial service firms and ridding the State’s pension systems of corruption. As chairman of the Senate’s Redistricting Committee, Sen. Raoul introduced legislation that created the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect racial and language minorities in the legislative redistricting process. In addition, Raoul serves as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Vice-Chair of the Criminal Law Committee and a member of the Executive, Gaming, Insurance and Public Health Committees.[2]

Raoul was among the candidates Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich considered to fill Obama's Senate seat upon Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election. Raoul withdrew his name from consideration, wary of entering into a quid pro quo with the governor, who later became embroiled in a corruption scandal over his attempt to sell the appointment.[3]

Outside the Senate[edit]

Raoul in 2009

Raoul serves as a partner of the law firm of Quarles & Brady with a practice concentrating on employment and labor litigation. Raoul is a former Cook County prosecutor and previously worked as senior counsel for the City Colleges of Chicago. He has also directed volunteer legal clinics in his district. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Cook County Bar Association and the North Central Province of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He has coached Hyde Park Biddy Basketball and has been an AYSO soccer volunteer. He has participated in voter registration campaigns with Rainbow/PUSH and has served as a volunteer Election Day lawyer.

Campaign for Attorney General of Illinois[edit]

In September 2017, Raoul launched his campaign for Attorney General of Illinois, originally he was expected to run for Mayor of Chicago in 2019 but declined.[4] Among a crowded field of eight Democratic candidates,[5] Raoul has received several significant endorsements: Congressman Danny Davis of Illinois’s 7@th congressional district, [6] President of the Illinois Senate John Cullerton[7], the Chicago Teachers Unions[8], the Cook County Democratic Party, and the Madison County Democratic Party.[9]

As of January 2018, Raoul had the largest war chest among the field of Democratic candidates.[10] At the end of 2017, Raoul received a $100,000 donation from tobacco mogul Don Levin.  The donations were made in $10,000 increments from ten of Levin’s companies.  Raoul’s opponents insist that accepting the money amounts to a conflict of interest.  The current attorney general’s office has been at odds with one of Levin’s companies, Top Tobacco, several times, and an arbitration remains pending with tens of millions of dollars at stake. Raoul’s spokesperson said that the $100,000 donation is not a conflict of interest since “Raoul is not attorney general.”[11]

Raoul’s campaign finance chair is Neil Bluhm, a billionaire casino magnate.[12] As a state senator, Raoul has consistently voted in favor of the gambling and gaming industry.[13]

According to Raoul’s campaign website, he supports the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and co-sponsored the Equal Wage Act in Illinois, which was later vetoed by Governor Rauner. He believes that abortion should be safe, legal, and accessible. He supports increasing gun restrictions and reforming the criminal justice system.[14]

He won the Democratic primary election on March 21, 2018 winning 30% of the vote in an eight way primary contest that included, among others, former governor Pat Quinn. He faces Erika Harold, a former Miss America and Champaign/Urbana, Illinois attorney who won her two way contest with 59% of the vote.

Personal life[edit]

Raoul lives in the Hyde Park/Kenwood area, he has two children, Che and Mizan.[15] He is also a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity (Theta Zeta chapter) and a member of the Chicago Chapter of 100 Black Men.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raoul, Kwame. "Chicago Tribune; Rauner, business groups push for Illinois workers' compensation changes" (chicagotribune.com). By Monique Garcia Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune Editorial Board. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Illinois General Assembly - Senator Biography". ilga.gov. Retrieved November 18, 2017. 
  3. ^ Saulny, Susan; Monica Davey (December 12, 2008). "Obama to Detail Any Staff Talks on Senate Seat". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2008. 
  4. ^ Pearson, Rick (September 20, 2017). "Raoul Launches Bid to Replace Lisa Madigan as Attorney General". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  5. ^ staff, Chicago Tribune. "Morning Spin: A look at who's raised the most in race to replace Lisa Madigan". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (September 20, 2017). "State Sen Raoul to Run for Illinois Attorney General in 2018". US News and World Report. 
  7. ^ Sneed, Michael (September 24, 2017). "Lisa Madigan's Bailing out May Have Had More to Do with Father". Chicago Sun Times. 
  8. ^ Esposito, Stefano (January 22, 2018). "Sen. Kwame Raoul Picks up Another Key Endorsement in AG Race". Chicago Sun Times. 
  9. ^ Pearson, Rick (November 3, 2017). "Cook County Dems endorse state Sen. Raoul over former Gov. Quinn, others for AG". Chicago Tribune. 
  10. ^ staff, Chicago Tribune. "Morning Spin: A look at who's raised the most in race to replace Lisa Madigan". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  11. ^ "Tobacco mogul stokes Raoul's bid for Illinois AG". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  12. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  13. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  14. ^ "On the Issues - Kwame Raoul". Kwame Raoul. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  15. ^ "Biography". kwameraoul.com. Archived from the original on 2013-02-18. 

External links[edit]

Illinois Senate
Preceded by
Barack Obama
Member of the Illinois Senate
from 13th district

2004–present
Incumbent