Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, long one of the state's most colorful and outspoken elected officials, died early Wednesday of complications from a stroke she suffered Tuesday, her chief of staff said. Ms. Topinka was 70.
For those outside Illinois, Topinka was a longtime Republican pol who was defeated by Rod Blagojevich in the 2006 Illinois governor's race. She was quite a character.
Far from being a politician packaged and presented like a commodity, Topinka displayed an impulsive, candid style. During one of her campaigns, her fliers called it "common sense, straight talk, hard work" -- that either drew people in or drove them away.
During the 2006 GOP governor primary, she dubbed her Republican opponents "morons" and proclaimed that then-Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich has "little weasel eyes." Her joke about flatulence at her first inauguration (to the Illinois House) is now a part of Springfield lore. [...]
Ms. Topinka graduated from Ferry Hall High School in Lake Forest in 1962 and received a degree four years later from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. After graduating, she worked for several suburban newspapers, eventually becoming an editor. She later served in public affairs for the American Medical Association and also provided public relations advice to local political candidates. She began her own political career with election to the Illinois House in 1980 and moved to the Illinois Senate in 1984, where she served for a decade until her election as state treasurer.