The contest for Illinois State Comptroller finds two candidates with long, deep party pedigrees facing off.

Incumbent Judy Baar Topinka has been a stalwart of the Illinois Republican Party since 1980, when she was elected to the Illinois House, representing the western suburbs for two terms before her election to the Illinois Senate. She served three terms as state treasurer before undertaking a losing campaign to Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2006. Topinka’s hiatus from statewide office was brief; she was elected state comptroller in 2010.

Her Democratic challenger, Sheila Simon, is the daughter of legendary Illinois Democrat Paul Simon. A former law professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law and Carbondale City Council member, Simon served on the the Illinois Reform Commission, a committee formed by Gov. Pat Quinn shortly after he ascended to the governorship following Blagojevich’s impeachment in 2009. After serving as Quinn’s lieutenant governor in his first full term, Simon announced last year that she would not be Quinn’s running mate in 2014.


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Despite Topinka’s Republican credentials, she has long enjoyed the support of Illinois’ public sector unions. In January she secured the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO and that support over Simon was reaffirmed for the fall campaign just last week.

Today’s Reboot Illinois poll, conducted June 17 by We Ask America among 1,021 likely Illinois voters, shows Topinka with an early edge that likely can be attributed to her longevity as a statewide office holder. She registered an 11-point lead among all respondents, but also was strong in drawing 21 percent of the Democratic vote. Simon drew only 6 percent of the Republican vote.

“Republican Judy Baar Topinka leads by 11 points, but the underlying numbers in the crosstabs show significant strength for her re-election. Her lead among Independents is not surprising, but 21 percent of the poll respondents who said they considered themselves to be Democrats also support Topinka,” says We Ask America COO Gregg Durham. “Her 26.71 percent in the city of Chicago is especially strong. Still, the 11-point spread puts Democrat Sheila Simon smack dab in the middle of the hunt. But if Topinka continues to make headway in those key demographics, Simon will run out of real estate to use in catching up.”

The charts below show results broken down by party identification, gender and location of respondents. The charts are interactive. Click tabs to see responses.

From the pollster:

We Ask America’s automated polls are conducted using our proprietary lists of Illinois voters. Each person responded to identical pre-recorded questions although in some cases the options are rotated to assure no preference of order is involved.  Cell phones users who have volunteered to answer our poll questions are included; others in that category may be contacted through a variety of proprietary methods.

Our sampling methodology ensures that We Ask America poll results are “projectable,” meaning that if every voter in a given geography participated, the results would not differ from the reported poll results by more than the stated margin of error (±3.06%) 95 percent of the time.

We Ask America adheres to the principles, ethics and guidelines of the American Association of Public Opinion Research.

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