Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka Dies Less Than 24 Hours After Suffering a Stroke

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Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka died 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, less than 24 hours after suffering a stroke, according to her office. Topinka was 70-years-old.

Topinka reported discomfort Tuesday morning and was admitted to a hospital in west suburban Berwyn. After undergoing tests she appeared to be doing in stable condition overnight before suddenly losing consciousness Wednesday morning.

Republican Judy Baar Topinka won a second term last month in a tough race with Democratic challenger Sheila Simon, the former lieutenant governor.

“Never without her signature sense of humor, Judy was a force of nature. She left her mark on the state she has called home her entire life. Her leadership improved Illinois and paved the way for countless women in politics.”

— Gov. Pat Quinn

Her term as Illinois Comptroller would have been her fifth term in statewide office, including three terms as Illinois treasurer (1995-2007). She was also former chairwoman of the Illinois Republican Party.

Topinka was well-known for her 2006 unsuccessful bid for governor against the already embattled Democrat Rod Blagojevich. She was reluctant candidate who made the bid after her announcement to run in November 2005 — perhaps only to try to oust Blagojevich for the sake of the State of Illinois. She was the first Republican woman to be nominated for governor of Illinois. Democratic nominee Dawn Clark Netsch was the first woman nominated for Illinois governor in 1994.

Topinka on Running for Governor of Illinois

“I feel it’s being hurt and abused. If I don’t stop it, I’d be complicit in watching it go down the tubes, and I don’t want to do that. So I’m running.”

— Judy Baar Topinka

In 2014, Topinka and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner were the only two Republicans to win statewide races.

“Comptroller Topinka’s magnetic, one-of-a-kind personality brought a smile to everyone she met, and she had a servant’s heart, always only caring about what was best for the people of our state.”

— Governor-elect Bruce Rauner

Judy Baar Topinka was born in west suburban Riverside in 1944, and graduated from Ferry Hall School (Young Ladies’ Seminary at Ferry Hall), now Lake Forest Academy in 1962. Topinka received a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.


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