CHICAGO (WLS) --Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has issued her opinion on who should select the successor to the late Judy Baar Topinka as Illinois comptroller.
Madigan believes the question of succession in the comptroller's office involves both governors - the old one and the new one - and two appointments, one that would last a little over three weeks, and the other which would last longer. How long? That's where political opinion enters the equation.
First, though the office holder has passed away, her office is still functioning and checks are being issued. But making sure there are no bumps ahead requires a fairly expeditious appointment. The attorney general's read of the law is that outgoing Governor Pat Quinn names an appointee to fill the remainder of Judy Baar Topinka's current term and then Governor-elect Bruce Rauner next month names a more permanent replacement for Topinka's new term. At the same time, while not part of her legal interpretation, the attorney general is urging a special election for comptroller in 2016.
"We live in a democracy and it's always the hope whenever possible we are able to elect officials that represent us. In this case, with the new term not having begun, we have a case where for a full four-year term somebody who could serve is not elected," Madigan said.
Madigan's call is for a special election that would coincide with the 2016 mid-term elections. Doing so would require state lawmakers to pass special legislation. The Senate President favors that.
"Governor Quinn has indicated he's in favor of a special election so we'd know that if we passed a two year term and a special election, he'd sign it," said John Cullerton, Illinois Senate President.
If Quinn favors a special election, he's not saying as much publicly today. His office released a statement that said: "The Governor appreciates the Attorney General's counsel and is reviewing it."
"I think Nancy Kimme ought to be appointed by governor Quinn to serve through January 12," said Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.
Kimme is the comptroller's chief of staff, and the Topinka family favors her appointment. Governor-elect Rauner says he believes "...the best course of action ...Is to maintain continuity and respect the wishes of the Topinka family.
"I can understand the idea we don't want to give a full four year appointment, but I think Governor Rauner's hands are tied on that for now by the Constitution," Sen. Murphy said.
The Republicans say two governors, two appointments, case closed. They, of course, wish to protect a statewide office in Republican hands.
The Democrats would like the opportunity to take it away two years hence. The next move is Gov. Quinn's.