Mendoza beats Munger in Illinois comptroller race

Democrat Susana Mendoza beat Republican incumbent Leslie Munger Tuesday in the race for Illinois comptroller.

With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Mendoza led with 2,533,997 votes to Munger's 2,323,848 votes in unofficial tallies. That's roughly 49 percent of the vote for Mendoza and 45 percent for Munger.

Libertarian Claire Ball, of Addison, had 177,926 votes and Green Party's Tim Curtin, of Hillside, had 137,015.

The normally low-key comptroller's race became a high-profile, big-budget campaign seen as a battle between Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

"We were outspent by millions of dollars by just three billionaires who think they can buy our political system," Mendoza said during her victory speech Tuesday night. "They think they can buy our democracy. Well they're wrong and we sent a clear message today: The state of Illinois is not for sale."

Mendoza will now fill the remainder of a term expiring in 2019. The comptroller is responsible for paying the state's bills, a challenge in light of Illinois' budget battles.

Millions of dollars were pumped into the race between Mendoza, the Chicago city clerk and former state legislator, and Munger, a business executive from Lincolnshire.

Munger was appointed to the Illinois comptroller position by Rauner after the 2014 death of GOP stalwart Judy Baar Topinka. Democrats then pushed through a law requiring a 2016 special election.

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