Devine endorses top aide in state's attorney race
January 14, 2008
By ERIC HERMAN , Sun-Times News Group
After keeping silent for months, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine has endorsed his top aide to succeed him.
Devine - who was rumored to be privately backing First Assistant State's Attorney Robert Milan - made his support public at a Sunday news conference. By endorsing Milan, Devine snubbed another top aide seeking the office, Chief Deputy State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. He also bypassed four other lawyers who, like Milan and Alvarez, are vying for the Democratic nomination in the Feb. 5 primary.
Devine told reporters he was ready to state his "full and wholehearted support for Bob Milan." Milan, 46, is a career prosecutor who has been Devine's No. 2 for the past four years.
Devine said the office would be better off in the hands of a professional prosecutor than those of a politician.
"In the last several years, I've relied on Bob Milan as an adviser, someone to bring leadership to the state's attorney's office," Devine said. "Bob has the respect of the prosecutors in our office." Devine, elected the county's top prosecutor in 1996, said last August he wouldn't run again.
Since then, the race to succeed him has become wide open. The Democratic Party declined to endorse a candidate. Each of the three officeholders seeking the nomination - Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), Ald. Tom Allen (38th) and Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) - has lined up support and a raft of endorsements.
Meanwhile, Milan and Alvarez - each with more than 20 years of experience in the state's attorney's office - have faced an uphill battle, since many voters do not know who they are. Defense lawyer Tommy Brewer also is running.
Milan, for his part, has raised eyebrows by appearing at recent bond hearings in two high-profile cases, something the first assistant does not typically do. And while Alvarez has taken a leave of absence to campaign, Milan has not.
"I was surprised by Mr. Devine's endorsement today because he gave me his word that he would remain neutral in this race, and he usually keeps his word," Alvarez said in a statement. "My candidacy represents change," she added.
Suffredin, who has criticized Devine for being soft on public corruption, said, "It is understandable that the incumbent would support the status quo candidate in this race. My candidacy is about change."
The primary winner will face county Commissioner Tony Peraica, the lone Republican candidate.