Attorney general candidates clash over SAFE-T Act, public health measures

Attorney General Kwame Raoul accused his Republican challenger Thomas DeVore of making “dangerous” remarks, while DeVore accused the Democratic incumbent of failing the state’s school students by not challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigations.

The charges and countercharges came during a nearly hourlong debate organized by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and Capitol News Illinois that was conducted Monday via Zoom.

Raoul, a former state senator from Chicago, is seeking his second term in the AG’s office while DeVore, a southern Illinois attorney in private practice, is trying to unseat him.

DeVore gained notoriety during the COVID-19 pandemic for filing numerous lawsuits, mostly unsuccessful, challenging the governor’s authority to issue multiple disaster declarations and to issue executive orders that included mask mandates and other mitigation measures. Among his clients in those suits was state Sen. Darren Bailey, who is now the GOP nominee for governor.

“I think one of the things we’ve learned over the course of the last couple of years is that there was a fair question to be asked about the extent of the governor’s ability to issue some of those mandates,” DeVore said. “You know, you have some on one side of the conversation, say he could absolutely do it. You had some that said he absolutely couldn’t. But I think we would all agree as intellectual people there was a fair question.”

Raoul, however, defended his decisions, and his support for Pritzker’s executive orders, saying the state was in the midst of a deadly pandemic and that he, himself, lost friends to the disease.

“I will agree with Mr. DeVore. It was a fair question to ask,” Raoul said. “But how many times you ask it is a fair question too. It was asked and answered multiple times in multiple lawsuits. And the courts’

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