General Assembly approves special election to fill comptroller’s seat

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly on Thursday voted for a measure that will require a special election for Illinois comptroller in 2016.

On a 37-15 vote in the Senate and a 66-40 vote in the House, Illinois Democrats moved forward with the bill that will see voters elect someone to serve the final two years of the late Judy Baar Topinka’s term.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the bill gives voters a voice in a statewide office rather than allow a governor to make an appointment that would be for the entire four years of the term the GOP’s Topinka won in November before her death last month.

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno contended the legislation represented a “naked power play” by Democrats.

Incoming Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner said he will appoint Leslie Munger as comptroller once he is inaugurated Monday. But Rauner maintained the appointment should be for a full four years — the entire length of the new term.

Radogno charged that Democrats want to cut short the appointment of an incoming Republican governor and give themselves a better chance to win the seat in 2016, a presidential election year, when Illinois Democrats tend to have strong voter turnouts.

Cullerton defended the proposal, saying it is constitutional, practical and fair.

State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, maintained the bill will result in litigation just as the state Capitol gets ready to share power between a Republican in the governor’s office and Democrats controlling the General Assembly.

Cullerton argued the proposal was “not meant to be a partisan issue.”