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Quinn Wants Special Election To Replace Topinka

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 18, 2014 10:40PM


Gov. Pat Quinn has weeks remaining as governor but he isn’t spending them waiting for Bruce Rauner to take over. Quinn called a special session of the Illinois Legislature on Jan. 8 to set up a special election for Illinois comptroller in 2016. The office is vacant following the death of Judy Baar Topinka last week. Topinka’s death has also sparked conversation about how to handle constitutional office vacancies.

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has said he has the legal authority to appoint a successor to Topinka and that calling for an election would begin a litany of costly legal challenges. In a legal analysis earlier this week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Quinn can appoint a successor to serve the remaining time on Topinka’s first term and Rauner can appoint a successor once Topinka’s second term begins Jan. 12. But Madigan believes doing so would be “undemocratic” and said lawmakers should pass legislation calling for a special election for comptroller. Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf reiterated his boss’ position to the Sun-Times.

"The only route to enact a special election for a statewide officeholder that is absolutely consistent with the constitution is passing a constitutional amendment. Additionally, any major change like this should apply to all future vacancies and be carefully and thoughtfully discussed — not rushed through in a last-minute special session that would look overtly political."

If the General Assembly does indeed pass legislation calling for a special election that Quinn would sign into law, it would set the stage for Illinois to have three comptrollers between now and the 2018 election.

[Tribune, Sun-Times]