CRYSTAL LAKE – Paul Schimpf shined a spotlight on his status as a political outsider – a point he said qualifies him to fight the state's corruption – during a pit stop in McHenry County.
Lisa Madigan's opponent for Illinois attorney general stopped by a meeting of the Algonquin Township Republicans on Monday night. The Republican spoke to a supportive room after the group's regularly scheduled meeting.
"If you want somebody to do something about political corruption, it can't be a political insider," Schimpf said. "It has to be someone like me, who doesn't owe any favors, who doesn't have any allegiances."
A native of Waterloo, outside St. Louis, Schimpf retired from the Marine Corps in May 2013. His time in the military, he said, gave him two main attributes to carry into the office of the attorney general: an ability to work with people from across the political and social spectrums, and a willingness to "get thrown into the deep end of the pool."
The latter characteristic was on display when he was the lead American attorney adviser to the Iraqi prosecutors during the trial of Saddam Hussein, he said.
"Once you've dealt with the Ace of Spades in Baghdad, corruption in Springfield doesn't seem that intimidating anymore," he said.
Schimpf's newness to politics does grant him at least one considerable disadvantage – money.
Madigan – the state's attorney general since 2003 – has a distinct fundraising advantage. She ended the second quarter of 2014 with more than $4.8 million versus just over $8,000 for Schimpf, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections reports.
Madigan received a boost in financial backing when there was speculation she would run for governor. She laid that idea to rest last July, saying she'd never planned to run as long as her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, remained in his job.
Schimpf acknowledged his financial challenges but said he's optimistic after seeing recent polling figures. Internal polling found he was just nine percentage points behind Madigan.
"What I've been saying all along is that if we can get our message out, we will win going away," Schimpf said. "But that's a big if. I get that."