Democrat Illinois comptroller honors GOP trailblazer Topinka

May 9, 2019
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendozoa and Joe Topinka, son of late former Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, unveil a new stone memorial in her honor outside the comptroller's building in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Topinka served the state in multiple capacities including terms in both chambers as a state legislator, Treasurer and Comptroller. (Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Democratic Illinois comptroller has dedicated a memorial to trailblazing Republican politician Judy Baar Topinka.

Susana Mendoza unveiled the small monument Wednesday to the late Topinka outside the comptroller’s office building in Springfield.

Topinka was elected to a second term as comptroller in 2014 but died unexpectedly a month later at age 70.

Mendoza defeated Topinka’s appointed successor in a 2016 special election. Mendoza considers Topinka a friend and mentor despite their differing politics.

Topinka was a state legislator from 1981 to 1995. She served three terms as state treasurer and was the first woman GOP nominee for governor in 2006. She took on incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich but lost.

Political corruption sent Blagojevich to federal prison. Topinka returned to politics as state comptroller in 2011.