Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka Dead at 70

Republican won a second term last month in race against Democrat Sheila Simon

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka died early Wednesday, fewer than 24 hours after having a stroke, according to her office. She was 70.

Spokesman Brad Hahn told The Associated Press that Topinka reported discomfort Tuesday morning and was admitted to a hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. After undergoing tests she appeared to be doing well overnight before suddenly losing consciousness Wednesday morning, Hahn said. She was pronounced dead shortly after 2 a.m.

Topinka, a Republican, won a second term last month in a tough race with Democratic challenger Sheila Simon, the former lieutenant governor.

"This was not going to be an easy race, and that's the way it turned out," Topinka said after the election results came in. "We were watching right to the end. I'm just happy because I have four more years to get things done."

Topinka previously served three terms as Illinois state treasurer, was a former Illinois GOP chairwoman and ran for governor in 2006. She said the temporary income tax increase should be phased out so that the state "keeps its promise without blowing a multi-billion hole in its budget."

During the comptroller's campaign, Topinka likened her job to being a "skunk at a picnic" — a reference to the task of writing checks to a state with a backlog of unpaid bills.

Topinka and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner were the only two Republicans to win statewide races this year after Tom Cross was narrowly defeated in the treasurer's race.

Illinois State Rep. Tom Cross (R-Lockport) says Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who died early Wednesday, was “refreshingly honest” and a woman who cared “about Illinois and about doing the right thing.”
Judy Baar Topinka was re-elected as Illinois Comptroller.
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