Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka fended off a number of conservative challengers to squeak by with the Republican nomination for governor. She will take on Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in November. And, man, neither of them wasted any time in going after each other.
Thanks to WGN, part of the Tribune Co. behemoth, I and other Illinois ex-pats could see the Election Night action unfurl from here in Washington. Blagojevich gave a victory speech after beating challenger Edwin Eisendrath by about a 68-32 margin (vote totals are still coming in, but that's a different story). He immediately went after Topinka, before anyone had even declared her the winner.
I don't know what she's thinking when she says 'no' to budgets that protect senior citizens who rely on Medicare, that help our schools by expanding education funding and budgets that support our police and firefighters. I don't know what she's thinking when she says 'no' to health care for kids. I don't know what she means when she says a family making $70,000 a year doesn't need a penny of help to afford the skyrocketing cost of health insurance for their kids, no matter what the circumstances they may be facing. She says to that family, 'Tough luck.' But I say to that family, 'We're here to help.' And I say it's about time government starts helping middle class families.
The race hadn't officially been called by the time Topinka addressed her supporters, but she shot right back at Blagojevich:
We're going to bring this little ol' fight right to Rod's doorstep. This is what I've been looking forward to every single day. So has Joe (Birkett, who won the GOP primary for lieutenant governor). Together we're going to out there and make sure that we give Rod an early retirement. Sorry about your pension Rod, it got raided. Seriously, though, we're going to restore honesty to this government so that people can be proud they live in Illinois...
You know it's easy to go from press conference to press conference just conjuring up great ideas and great programs. There's great programs and great ideas everywhere. But when you haven't figured out how to pay from them, and you've got to steal from funds and you've got to steal from pension funds for old people, well, you know, there's something very wrong there. And we are not going to let that go on.
Should be quite a race.
Other tidbits from the Illinois primary:
Birkett trounced State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger (R) in the race for lieutenant governor. Rauschenberger is currently the president of the National Conference of State Legislators. He dropped down to the #2 race after his own gubernatorial campaign sputtered. Rauschenberger also ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in the U.S. Senate race eventually won by Barack Obama, a Democrat then serving with Rauschenberger in the Illinois Senate.
State Sen. Adeleine Geo-Karis (R), the dean of the Illinois Senate, lost a primary race to a candidate she had originally recruited to run as her replacment. "Geo," as she was often called, served in the Senate for 33 years.