The gloves are off in the increasingly bitter treasurer contest between Republican state Rep. Tom Cross and Democratic state Sen. Michael Frerichs. And it's safe to these two hate each other's guts. Frerichs' latest Cross-directed barbs include dubbing his rival a "lapdog" for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. Frerichs is falsely trying to cast Cross as sympathetic to the tea party; Cross has attacked Frerichs as unsympathetic to Israel. (It gets worse from there.) Both have changed previously conservative opinions on wedge issues such as gay marriage (Cross now supports) and abortion (Frerichs is now pro-choice). Neither issue has anything to do with the state treasury.
If Cross wins, he would replace current Illinois investor-in-chief Dan Rutherford, a Republican, who opted not to run for a second term. The Oswego resident was Illinois House Minority Leader for 11 years before stepping down in 2013 to campaign for the treasurer gig.
Frerichs has repped Central Illinois' 52nd district for the past seven years and is Chairman of the Committee on Higher Education. The Yale graduate, who grew up in the small town of Gifford, served as Champaign County Auditor from 2002-2007. He was instrumental in pushing legislation to ban disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich from holding elected office in Illinois.
A recent We Ask America poll revealed that the treasurer competition, lacking an incumbent, is far closer than most other statewide government elections (i.e. Judy Baar Topinka-Sheila Simon, and Jesse White-Mike Webster). As of the middle of September, Cross led Frerichs with 42.49 percent of the vote to Frerichs' 35.31 percent.
Money could make a difference. According to Crain's Chicago Business, the 41-year-old Frerichs is "considerably better funded" and recently earmarked a whopping $1.1 million for an anti-Cross media blitz. While Cross is the bigger name, Frerichs has the resources to potentially take him down and grab another win for the Democrats.