John McGehee

John McGehee

Contributed photo

Moline lawyer John McGehee announced Tuesday he's running for Rock Island County state's attorney in the March 2012 Democratic primary.

McGehee told a group of current and former Democratic lawmakers that the reputation of the state's attorney's office is on the line.

"I will rise above the controversy," he said.

As a complaint accuses former Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez of official misconduct and lying to police, McGehee said the office can move forward.

"Look at the individual," he said. "Look at how I am and what I've been."

Terronez resigned the office in April, after a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of delivering alcohol to a minor. Mark Senko has since been appointed to the office.

Joining McGehee for the announcement at the Rock Island County Building were former congressmen Lane Evans and Phil Hare, Illinois state Sen. Mike Jacobs and his father, retired state Sen. Denny Jacobs, former Rock Island County Circuit Judge Clarence Darrow, East Moline Mayor John Thodos and Rock Island County Sheriff Jeff Boyd.

"My experience is deep, representing thousands of clients from simple to complicated matters that have given me extensive trial experience," McGehee said.

McGehee has practiced law in the Quad-Cities since 1989 in a firm in Silvis that his late father established more than 50 years ago.

He attended United Township High School in East Moline, Augustana College in Rock Island and Drake University Law School in Des Moines.

While he has not held public office before, McGehee said he has served the community in a variety of ways, including on the Rock Island County Health Board, Silvis Economic Development Commission and as Port Byron village attorney.

He was also appointed as guardian ad litem for Evans, who has battled Parkinson's disease for more than 15 years

In 2000, McGehee ran as a Republican for judge in the 14th Judicial Circuit and lost to Mark Vandewiele, a Democrat.

Saying he grew up in a family where one parent was a Republican and the other a Democrat, McGehee insisted Tuesday he's a Democrat.

"I believe the values of the Democratic party best mirror my values," he said. "I'm now a very good, strong Democrat."

John Ahern of Silvis vouched for the candidate's party leanings. "I don't know about the rest of his family, but that guy's a Democrat," Ahern said.