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GOP candidate for Illinois AG hits law and order as his big theme

Crain's Chicago Business

Friday, January 14, 2022  |  Column  |  Greg Hinz

International trade lawyer Steve Kim is making his second race for the top law enforcement job as Republicans fill out their statewide slate.

With a big pitch to restoring law and order, Illinois Republicans today moved a step closer to filling out their slate of candidates for statewide office, tapping a former Jim Edgar aide who will be making his second race for attorney general.

Announcing his candidacy today, via a press release and a website, is Steve Kim, whose family immigrated here from Korea when he was a small child and who ended up getting a law degree, advising then-Gov. Edgar on international trade, and who now works at a small law firm which specializes in the same field.

Kim’s website says his top priorities are to “fight crime” and “end corruption.”

“Right now, Illinois families do not feel safe. Chicago just experienced its deadliest year in 25 years, recording more homicides than any other city in America,” it says. “Cook County recorded over 1,000 homicides in 2021. Illinois’ statewide crime rate has outpaced the national rate. I’m running for attorney general because our leaders need to do better. We cannot wait to fix the dire problems our state faces.”

In his statement, Kim also accused Gov. J.B. Pritzker and former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan of presiding over a state government that “remains a cesspool run for the benefit of the politicians and insiders.”

Neither the statement nor the website mention Democratic incumbent Kwame Raoul or the fact that, despite its name, the office largely handles civil matters, with criminal prosecutions almost exclusively in the hands of county state’s attorneys.

But with crime rising as an issue of public concern, that didn’t stop Raoul from releasing a statement saying he’s “partnered with” state and federal agencies to prosecute crimes from murder to gun trafficking and pursuing cases against online child predators.

Raoul also noted his support for abortion rights, and his work on behalf of criminal justice reforms, some of which conservatives say have worsened street crime.

Kim, 52, is best known politically for running against then-AG Lisa Madigan in 2010. He also was Dan Rutherford’s running mate for lieutenant governor in the 2014 GOP gubernatorial primary, which was won by Bruce Rauner.

With Kim announcing for AG—following state Rep. Tom Demmer for treasurer, McHenry County Auditor Shannon Teresi for comptroller and ex-prosecutor John Milhiser for secretary of state—Republicans are awaiting only the official word that Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is running for governor to complete a slate that is expected to get huge financial backing from Chicago hedge-fund mogul Ken Griffin.

All of this is happening quite late in the process, and with minimal availability of the candidates to the media. Nominating petitions for the June primary began circulating this week.