Former Gov. Edgar onboard with Topinka

By Gus Bode

Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka announced Tuesday that former Gov. Jim Edgar would head her transition team if she is elected.

Topinka, Edgar, Republican State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld and Republican State Rep. Mike Bost were all on hand for the announcement at the Southern Illinois Airport.

Topinka said getting Edgar, a moderate Republican, on board would be a boost for her campaign.


“If that isn’t a shot in the arm, I can’t tell you what,” she said.

She said Illinois had a good government during Edgar’s time in office and that he was known as a man of integrity, was trusted by the people and even referred to as “the forever governor of the state of Illinois.”

“I want to be like my friend Jim Edgar” if elected, Topinka said.

Edgar said he was pleased Topinka chose him as her transition leader. He said the purpose of a transition leader is to help the new governor “hit the ground running.” He said the state is in its worst condition in 30 years, and a lot of work has to be done to restore credibility and integrity to the state government.

Edgar said Topinka has done what was best for Illinois citizens throughout her career, and that is why he accepted her offer.

“The governor I make recommendations to won’t play politics with the state of Illinois, she’ll do what’s best for Illinois,” Edgar said.

Edgar, who served as governor from 1990 to 1998, said his transition team was vital to his ability to have a fast start in office. If Topinka is elected, he said he would recommend Republicans, Democrats and independents for her committee. He said the problems in Illinois must be fixed with bipartisan cooperation and said Topinka is willing to work with anyone to benefit Illinois.


Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney said he didn’t fault Topinka for getting Edgar involved with her campaign, and he said it was probably a political move to mobilize voters.

“It’s no secret that Jim Edgar has already been a supporter of Ms. Topinka,” he said.

Sheila Nix, spokeswoman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s re-election campaign, said in a statement that Topinka brought Edgar on board to hide her bad record and failed programs.

“Treasurer Topinka can’t hide her bad record behind Jim Edgar,” Nix said. “Topinka needs to stand on her own. No pronouncements about future transition plans can hide her bad record of cutting health care, refusing to raise the minimum wage and not expanding preschool.”

Topinka also addressed Blagojevich’s advertisements during the campaign and said he has run more than 19,000 negative ads about her, the most recent of which accuse her of undermining the governor and unbalancing the budget as state treasurer.

“He can run all the ads he wants, but just like David and Goliath, not only do I have a slingshot, but I have pretty good aim,” Topinka said.

Brandon Augsburg can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 262 or [email protected]