Munger says she'd run in a 2016 special election

  • Leslie Munger

    Leslie Munger

Updated 1/7/2015 5:17 PM

Republican Leslie Munger of Lincolnshire says she was first approached by Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's staff about being Illinois' next comptroller Saturday.

Sunday evening, Rauner called Munger, who lost a race for Illinois House in November, to offer her the job of replacing the widely respected longtime political fixture Judy Baar Topinka, who died in December. And Munger was announced as the pick Monday.


Now, state lawmakers will decide Thursday whether she'll serve until 2018 or face an election in two years.

Munger says if Democrats move forward with a special election in 2016, she'd "absolutely" run statewide for the post.

"Whatever they do, they're going to do," she said.

Top Democratic leaders in the House and Senate support the special election, and Gov. Pat Quinn does, too. Quinn was the one who called lawmakers back to Springfield for one last day at the Capitol before Rauner is sworn in Monday.

A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says it's important to set up the election before Munger takes office because trying to change an official's term while she's holding office could spark or complicate legal challenges.

Munger, a former marketing executive with Helene Curtis, said she's humbled to be picked. She says she agreed to the job because she campaigned against Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills on a fiscally conservative platform and the comptroller's job gives her a pulpit for that message. The state's comptroller is charged with managing the state's cash flow and signing the checks.

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"I think people were impressed by how close it was," Munger said of the race.

Rauner, who contributed to Republicans across Illinois during his bid for governor, gave Munger $10,600 toward her campaign in 2014, the maximum allowed. Rauner's wife, Diana, also gave Munger $10,600.

Munger said she's been busy setting up schedules and meeting with staff to learn the ropes of the office. Topinka's longtime chief of staff, Nancy Kimme, will stay on with Munger, which she says will help with both the transition and ongoing management of the office.

Munger, Republicans and incoming Democratic treasurer Mike Frerichs all say they want the offices of comptroller and treasurer to be merged, but an amendment to the Illinois Constitution can't go before voters until at least 2016 and likely wouldn't be effective until 2018.

The legislation set to be considered by lawmakers Thursday would be relevant to all statewide offices that have a vacancy in the manner of Topinka's. She died last month between her election in November and her swearing in, which would have been Monday.

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