THE BLOG
12/05/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Anita Alvarez: Playing the "Experience Card"

I've gotten asked this question only about a hundred times in the last few months:

"Why aren't you writing about Anita Alvarez? She's a smart, successful Latina, running for an important Chicago office - you should be all over this!"

Anita Alvarez - who's running against Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica and Thomas O'Brien, an assistant state's attorney, for the office of Cook County State's Attorney - has been doing a fine job on her own without the likes of me having to point it out.

As a matter of fact, I waited patiently to see if, when times got tough, she'd stoop to pandering for votes based on her ethnicity so I could tisk, tisk it, but that (thankfully) never happened.

Instead I get to say how much I admire her for having run a campaign devoid of any of the standard "breaking-the-glass-ceiling" or "first" this-that-or-other platitudes a lesser candidate would have fallen back on.

Alvarez, currently Chief Deputy State's Attorney, is a model of how Latinos should run for office in this country: with integrity, dignity, respect for her background - and all voters' backgrounds - and the experience to back it all up.

I caught up with Alvarez Monday morning at Union Station as she, in a trademark red outfit, greeted commuters with a firm gaze and handshake while asking for votes. I asked how come she hasn't played the "Latina Card."

"I've always said more than being Hispanic or being a woman, I'm the most qualified to run," said the self-proclaimed suburban soccer mom and prosecutor in the stunning "Girl X" sexual assault case.

"When I won the primary everyone asked 'Was it because she's a woman? Was it because she's Latino?'" Alvarez confided. "Well, those are all good things, things I'm proud of - and they probably enhanced me as a candidate - but above all else, I'm the most qualified candidate. And I think that's what stands out."

Anita Alvarez: first-generation college grad, marathon-running-mother-of-five, maybe first female, first Hispanic Cook County State's Attorney. And above all, damned-good prosecutor.

Ahhhhh, life as it should be.