Endorsements for statewide candidates
Here are The News-Gazette's endorsements in four statewide offices up for election Nov. 4.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democratic incumbent, was once in the shoes of her Republican challenger, political newcomer Paul Schimpf.
She was a political neophyte who would have been a sure loser if not for the support of her father, all-powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. "Dadigan," one of the speaker's nicknames, first got her elected to the Illinois Senate and then to statewide office as attorney general.
Seeking her fourth term as attorney general, the highly capable Lisa Madigan runs strong on her own now and is perceived as the likely winner in her contest against Schimpf. Given the effective manner in which she's run her office, Madigan has earned another term in office.
But the 43-year-old Schimpf, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, former Marine Corps officer and lawyer, is a serious candidate, if not a formidable opponent. A resident of Waterloo near St. Louis, he brings the kind of ability and sincerity this state could use more of in its executive and legislative offices.
He's basing his campaign on the need for a corruption-fighting attorney general, suggesting that Lisa Madigan has been too passive on the issue and that her father's self-serving politics is the kind that needs investigation.
Schimpf is half-right. There's a lot going on in Illinois that deserves scrutiny.
But other than using the office as a bully pulpit, there's not a lot the attorney general can do. The office is primarily civil in nature, meaning it has limited jurisdiction to pursue corruption cases.
Criminal activity is mostly the preserve of local state's attorneys or federal prosecutors, not the attorney general.
It's worth discussing whether legislators should give the attorney general the authority to conduct statewide grand juries or new authority to investigate political corruption.
Schimpf also contends the office needs new blood, calling it a "new set of eyes" to re-examine priorities. Change is good, but not for its own sake, and there's no good reason to make a change.