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In attorney general debate, Raoul and Harold critique Madigan, Rauner

Carol Marin questions Democrat Kwame Raoul, left, and Republican Erika Harold, right, on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

Carol Marin questions Democrat Kwame Raoul, left, and Republican Erika Harold, right, on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

Democratic attorney general candidate Kwame Raoul called Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s job performance a “mixed bag” on Monday while Republican Erika Harold cited the budget impasse in an equally mild critique of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Raoul also offered an unequivocal endorsement of the work performed by Madigan’s daughter, outgoing Attorney General Lisa Madigan, while Harold accused her of “politicizing the office” for decisions such as defending the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit brought by Republican attorneys general.

The candidates made their comments in a debate conducted by WTTW/Channel for its “Chicago Tonight” program.

Moderator Carol Marin asked Raoul if he thought Speaker Mike Madigan, the object of scorn in many Republican campaign commercials this fall, including Harold’s, has “done a good job?”

“I think it’s a mixed bag,” said the veteran state senator.

“I’ve worked with Speaker Madigan, for instance, on abolishing the death penalty in the state of Illinois. We actually were both sponsors of a constitutional amendment to put voting rights protection in our state constitution.”

Democrat Kwame Raoul speaks on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

Democrat Kwame Raoul speaks on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

“But there’s also been a lot of impasse in Springfield that I believe has been unnecessary,” Raoul added without specifically calling out Madigan for his role in the budget wars.

Harold was similarly vague when Marin asked her if Rauner had done a good job.

“I think there were reforms that he wanted to see effectuated that were ultimately not able to be passed,” Harold said before praising his work on criminal justice reform.

Any minuses?

“I think that everyone was frustrated by the budget impasse that was the result of not enough action on both sides of the aisle,” she said, also without speaking to Rauner’s role.

Rauner has been Harold’s largest campaign donor, but in the final stretch of the campaign, she has been offering herself to voters as a check on Democrats if the governor is defeated by J.B. Pritzker, while Raoul says he would be a check on President Donald Trump.

Republican Erika Harold appears on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

Republican Erika Harold appears on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

Harold, a Champaign lawyer who has not held public office, said she believes Lisa Madigan has been an “effective attorney general in some respects.”

But she added: “I thinks there have been times when she has politicized the office and that hasn’t advanced the interests of all Illinoisans.”

“I disagree,” answered Raoul, jumping to his fellow Democrat’s defense. “I think Lisa Madigan has done an admirable job in the office. She’s been an effective consumer advocate. Even on the front of political corruption, she has prosecuted both Democrats and Republicans.”

Earlier, Harold had criticized Madigan’s decision to join other Democratic attorneys general in defending a lawsuit brought in Texas by Republican attorneys general against the Affordable Care Act.

Carol Marin questions Democrat Kwame Raoul, left, and Republican Erika Harold, right, on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

Carol Marin questions Democrat Kwame Raoul, left, and Republican Erika Harold, right, on WTTW on Monday. Screen image.

Harold said she wouldn’t have gotten involved on either side.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for any of the attorneys general to be involved in it because it’s fundamentally a legislative issue that has to be addressed at the Congressional level. I don’t think this is the sort of way you politicize the office,” she said.

Raoul said that if Democrats hadn’t stepped up, there would have been no one to defend the federal law because the Trump Administration refused to do so.

“The consequence would be people wouldn’t have that coverage, that lifesaving coverage,” said Raoul, a prostate cancer survivor.