Judy Baar Topinka

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Judy Baar Topinka
Comptroller of Illinois
Assumed office
January 10, 2011
Governor Pat Quinn
Preceded by Daniel Hynes
Treasurer of Illinois
In office
January 9, 1995 – January 8, 2007
Governor Jim Edgar
George Ryan
Rod Blagojevich
Preceded by Pat Quinn
Succeeded by Alexi Giannoulias
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 22nd district
In office
Member of the Illinois House of Representatives
from the 43rd district
In office
Member of the Illinois House of Representatives
from the 7th district
In office
Personal details
Born (1944-01-16) January 16, 1944 (age 70)
Riverside, Illinois, United States
Political party Republican
Alma mater Northwestern University
Medill School of Journalism, (BSJ) 1966
Occupation Features editor, reporter, columnist and politician
Profession Journalism

Judy Baar Topinka (born January 16, 1944) is the Illinois State Comptroller and former Illinois State Treasurer, having served as Treasurer from 1995 to 2007, and former chairwoman of the Illinois Republican Party. She was the first woman to become state treasurer, first to be elected to three consecutive terms and the first Republican to hold the post in more than thirty-two years. During her last term, she was the only elected statewide official from the Republican Party, in Illinois.

In November 2005, Topinka announced her decision to run for Governor of Illinois. In March 2006, she was nominated as the Republican candidate. She was the second woman (after 1994 Democratic nominee Dawn Clark Netsch) and first Republican woman to be nominated for governor of Illinois.[1] She went on to lose the election to Rod Blagojevich.

In 2010, she successfully ran for the office of Illinois State Comptroller. She was re-elected in 2014 to a second four-year term.

Early years[edit]

Topinka was born in the Chicago suburb of Riverside, Illinois, to William and Lillian Baar, the children of Czech and Slovak immigrants.[2] She graduated in 1962 from Ferry Hall School in Lake Forest and entered Northwestern University in Evanston. Topinka received a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the university's Medill School. She is an alumna of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. After leaving Northwestern, Topinka became a reporter for several suburban Chicago newspapers and rose through the ranks to become an editor. On the side, Topinka established her own public relations business, through which she began a career in consulting for various political candidates.

In 1965, she married Joe Topinka.[citation needed] They had a son, Joe, before divorcing in 1981.

Topinka is a member of the Illinois St. Andrew's Society and attends multiple events throughout the year.[3]

Legislative career[edit]

In 1980, Topinka first pursued her own career in politics by running for the Illinois General Assembly. She won a seat in the House of Representatives at which she served two two-year terms. In 1984, she set her sights on the upper house of the Illinois General Assembly and won a seat in the Senate at which she served ten years.

Illinois State Treasurer[edit]

In the middle of a term as state senator, Topinka joined the Illinois State Treasurer race in 1994 and won the election. She was reelected in 1998 and 2002.

Controversy and accusation of favoritism[edit]

As State Treasurer, Topinka cut a deal to allow hotels that were owned by indicted Springfield power-broker Bill Cellini [4] to pay $10 million to settle their debts which totaled $40.3 million. This deal was quashed by Attorney General Jim Ryan who stated that the hotels were worth more than the $10 million Topinka had attempted to settle the debt for.[5]

Illinois gubernatorial campaign[edit]

On November 7, 2005, Topinka announced that she would not seek re-election as state treasurer — instead, she entered the gubernatorial primary, hoping to challenge Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. The Republican primary was deeply divisive; her tenure as Party Chairman destroyed her support from the conservative wing of her party, and it was feared that her pro-choice and positive gay rights positions would be detrimental to her standing with the same conservatives. In December she announced that she would join forces with DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.

In February 2006, the candidates for the Republican nomination for Illinois Governor began running their first TV ads for the March statewide primary election. Rival candidate Ron Gidwitz's advertisements, attacking Topinka, were rebuked in the same week by the Illinois Republican Party: "In an unprecedented action, the Illinois Republican Party has officially rebuked the Gidwitz campaign for this ad because the Party found that the ad violates the Party's "Code of Conduct," which was enacted to police proper conduct among Republican candidates."

Later in February, candidate Jim Oberweis, another rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, started a series of attack ads for television markets, against Topinka, that were even more widely criticized, mostly for using "fake" headlines on the images of actual Illinois newspapers.[2][3] These ads, like Gidwitz's ads, also came under review by the Illinois Republican Party.[4] Because of the controversy generated, several television stations withdrew Oberweis's ads.[5]

On March 21, 2006, Topinka won the Republican nomination with 37 percent of the vote.

On November 7, 2006, she lost the race to Blagojevich.

2010 State Comptroller candidacy[edit]

Topinka's license plate is JBT

Topinka was a candidate for the office of Illinois State Comptroller in the 2010 election, facing Orland Park Village Trustee Jim Dodge in the Republican primary. She won the nomination with 59% of the vote. She went on to win the general election against Illinois state representative David E. Miller (D), Julie Fox (L) and E. Erika Schafer (G).

Electoral history[edit]

  • 2010 election for Illinois State Comptroller
    • Judy Baar Topinka (R), 52.9%
    • David Miller (D), 40.6%
    • Julie Fox (L), 3.3%
    • R. Erika Schafer (G),3.2%
  • 2006 election for Governor of Illinois
  • 2002 election for state Treasurer
    • Judy Baar Topinka (Republican) (inc.), 55%
    • Tom Dart (Democrat), 43%
  • 1998 election for state Treasurer[6]
    • Judy Baar Topinka (Republican) (inc.), 50%
    • Dan McLaughlin (Democrat), 48%
  • 1994 election for state Treasurer
    • Judy Baar Topinka (Republican), 51%
    • Nancy Shaheen (Democrat), 49%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Biography". Official website. Retrieved 20 December 2008. [dead link]
  2. ^ "A meat-and-potatoes type of person". Elections. Chicago Sun-Times. 2006-10-29. Archived from the original on 2006-11-14. Retrieved 20 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "Topinka is limited by feuds and funds". (2006-10-29). www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/metroeast/story/D83323624C7FC6A68625721500237FBB?OpenDocument, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  4. ^ Bill Cellini indicted Robinson, Mike. October 30, 2008. Accessed January 4, 2010
  5. ^ Cellini: state Capitol's quiet captain of clout – Dealmaker built empire working in background Novak, Tim; Neubauer, Chuck; McKinney, Dave. Chicago Sun-Times. October 6, 1996. Accessed January 4, 2010
  6. ^ "Election Information". Illinois State Board of Elections. elections.il.gov. Retrieved 20 December 2008. 


  1. ^ Article originally published in the Chicago Tribune about Oberweis's "faked" newspaper headline campaign ads.
  2. ^ FactCheck.org article about the same ads.
  3. ^ Article originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Oberweis's ads coming under review by the Illinois Republican Party.
  4. ^ Article originally published in the Daily Herald about the withdrawal of Oberweis's ads from some Illinois television markets.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Pat Quinn
Illinois State Treasurer
Succeeded by
Alexi Giannoulias
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Ryan
Republican Party nominee for Governor of Illinois
Succeeded by
Bill Brady