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Republican Steve Kim launches bid for Illinois attorney general, vowing to battle crime, corruption, Pritzker and Madigan

Launching his campaign on the first day candidates can start gathering signatures for nominating petitions, Steve Kim became the third Republican in as many days to announce a run for statewide office in the June primary.

Deerfield lawyer Steve Kim, a Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general.
Deerfield lawyer Steve Kim, a Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general.
kimforag.com

International business attorney Steve Kim launched his second campaign for attorney general on Thursday, entering the Republican primary with a pledge to tackle corruption and the state’s “spiraling” levels of violent crime.

In his announcement, the Deerfield lawyer slammed Gov. J.B. Pritzker and lawmakers for last year’s sweeping criminal justice reform package, calling it “disastrous.”

“Crime is spiraling out of control throughout Illinois, and our leaders continue turning a blind eye, pushing to defund our law enforcement,” Kim said in a statement. “As attorney general, I will work with our law enforcement to tackle our growing crime problem.”

Once an advisor to former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, Kim is waging his third bid for statewide office.

After winning the GOP nomination for attorney general in 2010, Kim lost the general election to Democratic incumbent Lisa Madigan, who won 64.7% of the vote to Kim’s 31.7%.

Four years later, Kim reached for statewide office again, running for lieutenant governor on a Republican ticket with then state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, whose campaign was derailed by a former staffer’s federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by the treasurer.

The suit was eventually dismissed, but not before Rutherford and Kim finished the GOP primary in fourth place with just 7.6% of the vote. They lost to Bruce Rauner and Evelyn Sanguinetti, who went on to win the general election.

2014 Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate’s from left, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, state Sen. Bill Brady, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and businessman Bruce Rauner.
2014 Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate’s from left, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, state Sen. Bill Brady, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and businessman Bruce Rauner pose before a debate in Naperville.
M. Spencer Green/AP file

Beyond his unsuccessful attempts for elected office, Kim has been involved in Illinois politics in other ways. In 2015, Rauner appointed him to the Illinois Human Rights Commission, an agency charged with ruling on cases of discrimination. In 2016, Kim was appointed to the Rules Committee of the Illinois Supreme Court, a position he still holds.

Launching his campaign on the first day candidates can start gathering signatures for nominating petitions, Kim became the third Republican in as many days to announce a run for statewide office in the June primary. Like the other two, he made former House speaker Mike Madigan a chief campaign target.

Republican Steve Kim, a candidate for Illinois attorney general.
Republican Steve Kim, a candidate for Illinois attorney general.
kimforag.com

State Rep. Tom Demmer, who launched his bid for state treasurer on Tuesday, featured images of the former state Democratic Party chairman in his announcement video. State comptroller hopeful Shannon Teresi took aim at the Southwest Side Democrat repeatedly in the press release and campaign website announcing her run.

Madigan left the Illinois political stage nearly a year ago after he was implicated in a bribery scheme in which ComEd is accused of sending $1.3 million to his associates in an exchange for little to no work.

Madigan hasn’t been charged with any crime and denies wrongdoing, but it hasn’t stopped Republicans from using the beleaguered House speaker as a key campaign theme.

Democrats too have raised a name repeatedly, and it’s that of billionaire hedge fund founder Ken Griffin, who is widely believed to be building a slate of Republican candidates that Democrats say includes Demmer, Teresi and former U.S. Attorney John Milhiser, who is running for Illinois secretary of state.

Democrats were quick to label Kim another Griffin pick in a statement from the state party’s deputy director, Jake Lewis.

“Another day, another Griffin candidate. Today it’s Steve Kim, who has apparently been tapped by Ken Griffin to join his handpicked Rauner Reboot slate as the Attorney General nominee,” Lewis said in the statement.

Griffin, who is worth an estimated $26.6 billion, according to Forbes, said in November he was “all in” to support a candidate to beat Pritzker, but the state’s richest person has been mum about who that candidate is or who else he might back for other offices.

Kim could use an infusion of cash.

He had just $41.93 in his campaign account at the end of last year.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, the Hyde Park Democrat seeking a second term, had not filed his year-end report as of Thursday, but he had $738,151.93 in his war chest on Sept. 30, and has raised at least $285,850 since then.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

Focusing on Pritzker and Madigan in his campaign launch, Kim made no mention Raoul.

The Democrat issued his own statement touting his accomplishments. The only Republican he mentioned by name was former President Donald Trump.

“I look forward to debating the issues and challenges that matter most to voters across Illinois. This election comes at a critical time for our state as we continue to combat Republican attacks on our democracy, our access to health care and reproductive rights, and our right to vote,” Kwame said.

“The global pandemic and Trump presidency have shown us how important state attorneys general are to preserve the fundamentals of our democracy, protect the public’s safety, and uphold our rights.”