(CBS) — It’s the comptroller who pay’s the state’s bills.
But what’s really turning heads this year is the record amounts the candidates are paying to get elected to that office.
CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports.
Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed Leslie Munger as state comptroller, after the 2014 death of Judy Baar Topinka. But the Republican is no fiscal conservative when it comes to spending campaign money to keep the job.
“There’s just a big fight right now about who is going to lead the state,” Munger says.
Just this week, Rauner himself donated $1 million to Munger’s campaign, which has raised more than $5 million — much of that from two other extremely wealthy Republican donors.
“I think the governor and his billionaire friends would like to purchase the office of the comptroller,” says Democratic challenger Susana Mendoza, currently Chicago city treasurer.
Her campaign has raised about $3 million, mostly from big labor groups and smaller donors.
Both are spending plenty on TV ads, with Munger tying Mendoza to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.
“She’s called him her mentor,” Munger says of Mendoza.
Meanwhile, Mendoza’s commercials try to tie Munger to Rauner and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“She has yet to denounce Donald Trump,” Mendoza says of her opponent.
Combined, Munger and Mendoza will easily spend four times what Topinka and democrat Sheila Simon shelled out in their 2014 comptroller race.
Why? Rauner is desperate to retain the only other statewide office currently held by a Republican.
Madigan is just as anxious to pick off a Rauner ally.