Hours after news broke that Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka had unexpectedly passed away Wednesday, Governor-elect Bruce Rauner said he wants Gov. Pat Quinn to appoint Topinka’s Chief of Staff Nancy Kimme to step in and serve “right now.”
Rauner spoke during the afternoon hours following a meeting at the Comptroller’s office.
“[It’s a] very sad day for the people of Illinois,” he said. “Illinois has lost one of its greatest public servants. Judy was a tremendous human being. I was honored to become her friend and her ally in recent years.”
It was not immediately clear who would appoint Topinka’s replacement Wednesday morning.
Political sources tell NBC Chicago that Attorney General Lisa Madigan has been asked for her legal opinion.
But while speaking to reporters Wednesday, Rauner said he thinks it’s “common sense that I would have the ability.”
There was talk of holding a special election to replace Topinka, but Rauner said he didn’t “think right now is the time to talk about that.”
“I’m sure the lawyers will fight about it,” he said. “But my own view is that we should have continuity very quickly because the people of the state deserve service. My own view is that Nancy Kimme is her senior person who knows the system, she should step in and serve right now and then when things are clearer and settled we can talk about a permanent person to serve out Judy’s four years.”
Rauner then called on Quinn to appoint Kimme.
Topinka died early Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after having a stroke, according to her office. She was 70.
Topinka, a Republican, won a second term last month in a tough race with Democratic challenger Sheila Simon, the former lieutenant governor.