Illinois Republicans rail against democracy by opposing special election for state comptroller

Republicans, who are in the minority in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, railed against democracy yesterday by publicly opposing legislation, which is currently on Democratic Governor Pat Quinn’s desk awaiting his signature, that would call a special election, which, if I’m not mistaken, would be held at the same time as the November 2016 presidential election, to fill the final two years of what would have been Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s second term in the comptroller’s office had she not died last month.

Republican State Senator Dave Syverson of Rockford thinks that allowing Illinoisans to vote for who they want to fill the vacancy in the comptroller’s office that was created by Topinka’s death instead of allowing a political appointee to serve four years in the comptroller’s office without having to face the voters is “political”:

Republicans including Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) blasted Democratic leaders for pushing the amendment through.

“I’m disappointed,” Syverson said. “It’s something that’s clearly political and the governor is doing this as part of his last hurrah.”

Apparently, Syverson thinks that whether or not to allow Illinoisans to elect their own public officials is a political stunt by Democrats and that Republicans should run the state forever. That’s one of the most un-American remarks I’ve ever heard from a politician.

Another Republican State Senator, Darin LaHood of Peoria, repeated a threat by Republican Governor-elect Bruce Rauner to challenge the legislation in court in a desperate attempt to block the special election from taking place and allow Rauner’s interim political appointee, Leslie Munger, to serve as comptroller for effectively a full four-year term without ever having to face Illinois voters in an election for comptroller:

While the amendment passed both houses easily and is expected to be signed into law, Republicans, including Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) say the fight isn’t over.

“I think there’s no doubt there’ll be a constitutional challenge to this. I think it will happen shortly after a new comptroller is sworn in on Monday,” LaHood said.

I’m not a lawyer, but the legal argument that LaHood and Rauner are trying to make appears to be badly flawed, and it’s unlikely that a court would strike down the special election legislation. Article V, Section 7 of the Illinois Constitution deals with filling vacancies in the offices of comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state, and attorney general, and it appears to allow the General Assembly to enact legislation to allow special elections to fill vacancies in those offices:

If the Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller or Treasurer fails to qualify or if his office becomes vacant, the Governor shall fill the office by appointment. The appointee shall hold office until the elected officer qualifies or until a successor is elected and qualified as may be provided by law and shall not be subject to removal by the Governor. If the Lieutenant Governor fails to qualify or if his office becomes vacant, it shall remain vacant until the end of the term.

(emphasis mine)

Republicans can whine all they want about Bruce Rauner’s political appointee Leslie Munger not being able to serve four years in the comptroller’s office without having to face the voters of this state, but, more than likely, there will be a special election in order to allow Illinois voters to elect a new comptroller and Munger will only be able to serve two years before either having to face the voters of this state or step down from the comptroller’s office.

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