SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Illinois State Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka, who ran unsuccessfully against Rod Blagojevich for governor in 2006, now says he deserves the 15 to 20-year sentence prosecutors are seeking.
As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Topinka says Blagojevich’s actions helped paint Illinois as the most corrupt state in the nation.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
“His form of corruption was so pervasive that it’s going to be with us at least a decade or more, in terms of pension raids that were there, which left us underfunded,” she said.
Topinka ducks when asked if she’d like to make another try for the governor’s office. She says she thinks Gov. Pat Quinn is vulnerable, and points out she’s only lost one major election in her life — to Rod Blagojevich.
But she won’t throw another hat in the ring, saying she’s too busy with her current job.
Federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel for the 15- to 20-year prison term on Wednesday. But defense attorneys are seeking a much lighter sentence, arguing Blagojevich never profited from the crimes on which he was convicted and caused no public harm.
Blagojevich’s attorneys did not make a specific recommendation for his sentence, but said his sentencing range under federal guidelines should start at 41 to 51 months and that he should get much less than that. Previously, defense attorneys have said they would make a compelling case for probation only.
As the former chair of the state Republican Party, Topinka also weighed in on the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
She says she agrees with the idea that GOP hopeful Herman Cain may have lost his on the front runner status he held for a while.
“Seemingly so, but you know, I watch that much like everyone else watches on the outside,” she said. “It seems like a reality show, you know, every week, somebody pops up. Every week, you know, ‘Can you dance this number?’ and the next week someone else is up, and so on. So I really don’t know what they’re doing.”
Topinka says she doesn’t know how long Newt Gingrich can maintain his current poll standing. She says Mitt Romney is steadfast, but unable to make much headway with conservatives.
She would like to see former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the race, but questions whether he’d have time to make a serious showing.
Topinka also says from her vantage point at comptroller, she sees Illinois digging itself deeper into debt with corporate tax breaks and add-ons like tax breaks for live theaters, and boosting exclusions in the real estate tax.
She says a new casino in Chicago is the only major revenue source she sees to help her cover $8 billion in bills sitting unpaid in her office.