Illinois Treasurer’s race: undecided voters will swing it

1 Nov

The Race:

Illinois State Treasurer

The Job:

The treasurer is in charge of investing the state’s funds, finding the rightful owners of unclaimed properties and managing the college savings program Bright Start.

The Candidates:

Robin Kelly – Democrat –

Kelly, an African American woman, currently serves as the Chief of Staff for current treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. Previously, Kelly was a State Representative of the 38th District from 2003 to 2007. Originally from New York, he moved to Illinois to attend Bradley University and currently lives in Matteson, Ill.

James Pauly – Libertarian –

Pauly currently works as a senior quality assurance analyst at a company in Chicago. He also serves as the fundraising chair for the Libertarian Party of Chicago. He also wishes the voters to know that he is working on an adventure fantasy novel that is due out in January and he plays in a rock band.

Dan Rutherford – Republican –

Rutherford currently serves as a State Senator, where he has been in office since 2003. He is also an executive with ServiceMaster. Born in Pontiac, he currently lives in Chenoa.

Scott K. Summers – Green Party –

Summers has been an attorney for over twenty years, concentrating on estate planning, probate and business law. He was born in Evanston, but currently lives on a small farm in McHenry County.

The Skinny:

A central story surrounding the Illinois State Treasurer race has been the 2008 mishandling of the state’s Bright Start college savings program which lost $150 million. The state did eventually recover $77 million from the firm that managed the fund.

This has set the tone for both the U.S. Senate race between Republican Mark Kirk and current state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Kirk and others continually use the Bright Start program to characterize Giannoulias as unfit to hold Illinois’ Senate seat.

Kelly, as Giannoulias’ Chief of Staff, is being charged with the mismanagement of the Bright Start funds.

The Chicago Tribune charges: “Kelly has been chief of staff for treasurer Giannoulias since 2007, so it’s dumbfounding that she can’t fully explain what went wrong with the fund.”

But despite the negative coverage of the fund, Kelly tries to talk up the office’s efforts to recover the money and to help people recover unclaimed assets through six satellite offices.

Rutherford is a veteran state lawmaker from downstate and promises to limit the office’s spending and make wiser investments. Kelly promises to continue and expand some of the offices programs which she says will create jobs.

Both candidates are both hoping to give the treasurer’s office the authority to invest the state’s money with venture capital funds, which in turn would invest in start-up companies, thus hopefully leading to new job opportunities to the state’s unemployed.

According to the latest polls, Rutherford is leading with 42 percent of the vote, with Kelly at 38 percent. Undecided votes come in at 11 percent while third party candidates Pauly and Summers total about 4 percent each.

Key Endorsements:

Robin Kelly is endorsed by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Dan Rutherford is endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.

Kevin Sherman

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