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Attorney General Lisa Madigan Shocks With Announcement She Won't Seek Reelection

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Sep 15, 2017 8:51PM

Lisa Madigan at the Women's March this January (Facebook)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced today that she would not be seeking reelection to the office that she has held since 2002. The unexpected announcement led to speculation about which Democrats might run for the AG spot and what the future held in store for the popular politician who is often shortlisted for major positions in Illinois politics.

Madigan, 51, released a statement saying that she would not seek reelection for Attorney General in 2018, but that she would finish out her term that ends January 2019. She had previously said she intended to run for a fifth term, so today's announcement came as a shock. She did not say why she was not seeking reeleection, only vaguely hinting that she was ready for something new.

"As I look ahead, I believe that the end of my fourth term as Attorney General will be the right time for me to seek a new challenge," Madigan wrote. "I have dedicated my career to helping people. That will continue to be my focus, and I am looking forward to finding new ways to do that with the passion that I have brought to my work as Attorney General."

Madigan's name is brought up as a possible candidate for seats throughout the state, including governor, U.S. senate and mayor of Chicago. She mulled a run for governor in 2014 and even raised $4.8 million for her campaign, but ended up backing off because she thought there would be a conflict serving while her father Mike Madigan remained Illinois Speaker of the House.

Today she told Crain's Chicago Business that she had ruled out a run for Chicago mayor but she didn't comment on whether she would run for governor. If a Democrat defeats Rauner next year, that would put her out of the running for that office. Sources tell Politico that she might be considering working in the private sector after her term expires.

The Chicago Sun-Times points out that some at City Hall have suggested that Madigan could be appointed to federal monitor to oversee the Chicago Police Department. As Attorney General, Madigan filed a suit against the city of Chicago, saying that it needed federal oversight to reform a department culture marked by racism and a lack of accountability, according to a Department of Justice report. The federal monitor would be a lucrative part-time job for an attorney in private practice. the Sun-Times also noted on Friday afternoon that unnamed sources say Madigan has privately assured Emanuel she is not going to run for mayor in 2019.

The pair have an uneasy partnership, given that Madigan was a strong voice seeking to wrest control of the department from the mayor's office. But Emanuel had nothing but praise for Madigan today.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's statement helped to fuel speculation that he could be working with Madigan: "While Attorney General Madigan may not be running for reelection, I am confident she will continue her selfless service beyond Springfield, and I look forward to working with her in the years to come."

He also told the Sun-Times, "My own sense of it is, with a young family I can understand the pressures. I don’t know if she cited that."

Republican Erika Harold had previously announced that she would be running against Madigan for the Attorney General position.

Madigan told Crain's that she expects a raft of highly qualified Democrats to step up and run for her open seat in 2018. State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago has been eyeing the seat, and seriously considered it when Madigan explored a bid for governor. He told the Sun-Times today, "I’m very interested. It’s an office of extreme potential for great advocacy. My record speaks to being able to serve in that office in terms of my chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, my work on criminal justice reform and other legal matters. It’s something I have to take a serious look at—and very quickly."

Madigan told Crain's her father was behind her decision to not seek reelection and that the pair are on good terms. He released a statement to Capitol Fax: "No father could be prouder of his daughter’s personal and professional accomplishments, and I look forward to watching her continue her commitment to helping people in a new capacity."

Madigan was the first female attorney general of Illinois and the longest serving one in its history.