Not to get too far ahead of things, but state Sen. Mike Frerichs’ likely candidacy for state treasurer raises a couple of potentially historic possibilities.
Frerichs, of Champaign, so far is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for treasurer. Although even he hasn’t officially announced for the office, no other Democrat is as far along in a campaign as Frerichs, who has been raising money, giving speeches around the state and spent last week marching in parades in Riverside, Evergreen Park, Evanston and Oak Park. Each of those communities is at least 100 miles from Frerichs’ district in East Central Illinois.
If there are any other candidates for state treasurer, they’re lying low while Frerichs builds his campaign treasury to some point well north of $500,000.
Frerichs would be the first candidate for statewide office from Champaign County since Republican James Skelton ran (and lost) for state treasurer in 1978 against Democrat Jerry Cosentino.
If elected, Frerichs would be the first Democrat from Champaign County — covering some 180 years of county history — to win any statewide office (except for the University of Illinois Board of trustees).
He also would be one of only a handful of any county residents to win statewide office. There has never been a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state or treasurer from Champaign County.
When Illinois has auditors of public accounts (from 1818 to 1973), two Champaign County men, Republicans James McCullough and Lloyd Morey, served in the position. Vernon Nickell, also a Republican from Champaign County, was the elected superintendent of public instruction from 1943 to 1959. And there has been one U.S. senator from Champaign County, Republican William McKinley, from 1921 to 1927.
“I have seen lots of parts of the state that I would not otherwise have seen. Riverside, what a cute little town,” Frerichs said of the hometown of State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a former state treasurer. “I saw Judy in the parade. She called me Mister Treasurer. I said, ‘Oh, I have a ways to go.’ But she said, ‘No, no one’s working as hard as you are. I see you everywhere. You’re going to win this thing.’
“She said this face to face, in front of a lot of her staffers. She said, ‘We’re going to work together.’ I just said, ‘Judy, I’d be happy to.'”
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