Lawyer who helped dismantle Pritzker’s school mask mandate announces run for attorney general
“We’ve got to put an end to this executive fiat of running our state by executives that think tyrannical behavior is OK,” said Tom DeVore, whose challenges to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 restrictions were mostly unsuccessful until this month. “And it’ll get nasty, but that’s OK. I’m not scared.”
The downstate lawyer who has made a name for himself by waging legal battles against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation measures now says he’s running for Illinois attorney general to tackle corruption and take on the Democratic governor’s “tyrannical behavior.”
Tom DeVore is behind the lawsuit that has undone much of Pritzker’s statewide school mask mandate — for now, at least — marking a rare win for the Bond County attorney after nearly two years of mostly unsuccessful challenges to the governor’s pandemic restrictions.
DeVore said he decided to run for statewide office as a Republican last week after an Illinois appellate court shot down an attempt by incumbent Democratic Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to keep masking requirements in place for hundreds of school districts.
“It really kind of changed my perspective. I saw kids across the state standing up for themselves,” DeVore said in a video to his Facebook followers late Monday.
“We’ve got to turn this state around for these kids. We cannot keep going down the path we’re going. We’ve got to put an end to the corruption. We’ve got to put an end to this executive fiat of running our state by executives that think tyrannical behavior’s OK,” DeVore said. “And it’ll get nasty, but that’s OK. I’m not scared.”
Illinois Democrats dismissed DeVore’s campaign announcement as “a pathetic gambit to extend his 15 minutes of fame” — and to “take his circus act statewide.”
“For nearly two years, Tom DeVore has used the pandemic as his personal publicity tour, filing countless absurd and frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to grab headlines, enrich himself, and undermine our state’s public health apparatus,” Democratic Party of Illinois Executive Director Abby Witt said in a statement.
“Sadly, the Illinois Republican Party has seemingly abandoned any shred of decency, inviting extremists like DeVore to the forefront.”
The bitter words follow the public sniping between DeVore and Pritzker that grew personal during the first year of the pandemic.
The Democratic governor accused the attorney of offering a “bounty” of $1,000 on social media in exchange for photos of Pritzker or his family members celebrating in person around Thanksgiving of 2020 while health officials urged residents to avoid gatherings during a COVID-19 surge.
That resulted in “threatening messages” being sent to Pritzker’s teenage daughter, the governor said at the time, after she was misidentified in a photo posted to Twitter. DeVore denied Pritzker’s characterization of the situation.
In October of 2021, in response to DeVore’s school mask lawsuit, Pritzker called the attorney “a grifter who is taking money from parents who are being taken advantage of.”
DeVore has also previously filed suit on behalf of far-right state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, to overturn Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. Bailey is running for governor.
DeVore, who had been running for judge in the state’s 5th Appellate District Court before switching races, said Monday “you will never hear me say anything bad” about other candidates in the attorney general race — besides saying he’s disappointed in how [Raoul] represented the people for the last two years.”
DeVore is up against international business attorney Steve Kim for the GOP nomination. Kim is part of a slate of statewide candidates put together by political operatives with ties to former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and ex-Sen. Mark Kirk.
“I’m the son and grandson of immigrants who came here for the American Dream, a dream that is slipping away for many Illinoisans because of JB Pritzker and Kwame Raoul’s political games that have let crime and corruption go unchecked,” Kim said in a statement Tuesday, declining to comment on DeVore’s entry in the race.
Despite being the establishment pick for attorney general, Kim has reported less than $42 in his campaign fund, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. DeVore loaned $5,000 to his campaign a week before joining the attorney general race.
Chicago attorney David Shestokas has also circulated petitions and announced a GOP bid for attorney general. He couldn’t be reached for comment.