Illinois Republicans say Gov. Pat Quinn is not on solid ground constitutionally in seeking a special election to fill part of the upcoming term in the comptroller’s office. Republican Judy Baar Topinka passed away last week, a month after her re-election and a month before her re-inauguration. The Constitution says the governor makes an appointment in such a case until a successor can be elected and qualified.
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The attorney general this week said that means two vacancies: the remainder of the current term, which expires Jan. 12, and the new term that begins Jan. 12, meaning Quinn makes the first appointment and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner the second.
The attorney general went on to offer her preference of a special election in 2016, so at least part of the full term can be carried out by someone of the people's choosing. She called a scenario in which a governor appoints someone for an entire four-year term “undemocratic.”
Siding with the attorney general as it pertains to the appointment being Rauner's responsibility, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) says she offered no support or standing for a special election. Durkin says the Democrats lost the election for governor and for comptroller in November and suggested they are “greedy” for wanting to take some of the power away from the incoming governor.
Quinn is calling a special session for Jan. 8. He hopes lawmakers will schedule the special election for comptroller in 2016.