Jim Edgar says Topinka's '06 loss to Blagojevich 'the public's fault'

  • Former Gov. Jim Edgar speaks with Judy Baar Topinka in 2006 at the Illinois State Fair.

    Former Gov. Jim Edgar speaks with Judy Baar Topinka in 2006 at the Illinois State Fair. Associated Press File photo

  • Republican Sidney Mathias is sworn into a seat on the Lake County Board.

    Republican Sidney Mathias is sworn into a seat on the Lake County Board. courtesy of Sidney Mathias

Updated 12/12/2014 11:10 AM

Former Gov. Jim Edgar said it was clear after Judy Baar Topinka's 2006 loss to Democrat Rod Blagojevich in the governor's race that she'd try to get back into state government.

It was in her blood, Edgar said, adding that Topinka called him to talk about a run for state comptroller in 2010, but she didn't really need convincing.


"You know she just needed to get back in," Edgar said.

Topinka's sudden death this week prompted a new round of reflecting and what-ifs about that race for governor, given how Blagojevich panned out. It was the only statewide race Topinka lost, but it was a biggie.

Edgar's take, hours after learning Topinka had died: "That was the public's fault," Edgar said. "That wasn't her fault."

Long before the election, reporters had detailed Blagojevich's tendency to help his campaign contributors and, as well as his government management shortcomings.

Those details foreshadowed what was to come for him.


Services for Topinka will be at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 building, 6200 Joliet Road, in Countryside. State leaders, colleagues and family will share stories and celebrate her life, her spokesman Brad Hahn said.

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'Life of the party'

On Friday night, Matt Wakely was among two tables full of people from Alexian Brothers Health System at a Catholic Charities fundraiser in Chicago.

Topinka was there, and when those at the table wanted to talk about her recent re-election, she changed the subject back to health care, said Wakely, vice president for communications at Alexian, based in Arlington Heights.

"She was really working the room, and that was a big room," he said.

Wakely said Topinka was as energetic as always, which made waking up days later to find out she had died suddenly overnight especially tough. "She was just the life of the party," he said. "What a shock," he said. "What an absolute shock."


Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner announced weeks ago who would chair several committees in various subject areas to help with the transition to his new job.

But the incoming administration isn't saying who is actually on those committees, keeping that detail a secret. "We are seeking the input of a diverse array of experts and stakeholders but are not making any announcements beyond the co-chairs," Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. Schrimpf didn't say why they'd keep such information to themselves.


Sports authority

Days after Gov. Pat Quinn appointed his former campaign manager Lou Bertuca to a $160,000-per-year post as head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, lawmakers are already looking at how to prevent a similar move in the future.

State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, said she'll propose legislation next year to outlaw a lame-duck appointment to the authority. She says appointments to some other agencies are already against the rules.

"A governor who's leaving office shouldn't be able to use the position as a cushy landing spot," Morrison said.

Facebook debunking

Social media has been buzzing with posts that say Illinois lawmakers have voted to make taking video of a police officer illegal.

But lawmakers of both parties and the police say that's false. Illinoisans can record police on the job and can still do it if Quinn signs pending eavesdropping legislation into law.

"The public can still record the police," Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Ed Wojcicki said.

The legislation, if signed into law, would renew Illinois' ban on recording someone who hasn't consented if that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time. One sponsor was state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat.

She says courts have ruled that police don't have an expectation of privacy while they're working with the public, so Illinoisans would still be able to record them.

Preventing suicide

The U.S. House this week sent the Senate legislation that would, among other things, require the Department of Veterans Affairs to bolster efforts to prevent suicides among veterans.

"As the nature of war changes, the injuries our warriors sustain also change," U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat and co-author of the legislation, said in a statement. "Increasingly, theirs are invisible wounds, which do not have simple treatment and do not always manifest immediately."

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, spoke in support of the plan on the House floor. "The power of this (is) when you have that broad of a political spectrum that says, 'We're not going to tolerate this.' We're going to make sure that the issue is not lost in the shuffle, that this is not a statistic," he said.

Back on board

Republican Sidney Mathias returned to elected office this week when he was sworn in as a member of the Lake County Board.

Mathias lost his longtime seat in the Illinois House in 2012 and said he'll seek re-election to the county board post in 2016.

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