SPRINGFIELD — Can being associated with Gov. Bruce Rauner spell doom for one Republican on next year’s ballot?
There will be a special election for comptroller in 2016, with Rauner’s appointee to the position, Leslie Munger, facing off with one of two Democratic challengers: State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) or Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza.
Scott Kennedy, operator of IllinoisElectionData.com, says the increased voter turnout in presidential years will already favor the Democratic candidate, and Munger’s chances may rest on how voters feel about Rauner in November 2016.
“If Gov. Rauner remains at the popular at the time, that could be a tremendous asset,” Kennedy said. “If, for some reason, Rauner’s favorability plummets, that could be considered a detriment, but overall, he’s pledged financial support for her, so that’s clearly an asset.”
Being associated with the state budget stalemate may also hurt Munger’s election changes, according to Kennedy, if she’s “disproportionately in the news for doing her job” as it relates to managing state payments to service providers and vendors.
Despite all those factors, former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady doesn’t think Munger needs to make any show of separation from Rauner.
“All she has to do is keep doing what she’s been doing, which is doing a good job as comptroller and get out and campaign, and she’ll be fine,” Brady said.
After a speech at the City Club of Chicago earlier this month, Munger noted she does disagree with Rauner on certain issues, like limiting eligibility to the state’s child care assistance program.
This election will mark the first time Illinois voters have selected a constitutional officer during a presidential election year since 1976. Republicans won the majority of statewide results that year, including in the presidential race. The 1970 Illinois Constitution moved elections for constitutional officers to midterm election years beginning in 1978.