State comp­trol­ler stays in Men­doza’s hands

Daily Southtown - - ELECTION 2018 - By John Byrne je­byrne@chicagotri­bune.com Twit­ter @_john­byrne

Demo­crat Su­sana Men­doza breezed to re-elec­tion as state comp­trol­ler Tues­day, declar­ing vic­tory over her Repub­li­can chal­lenger, Dar­lene Senger.

Men­doza took the stage at Demo­cratic gov­er­nor can­di­date J.B. Pritzker's elec­tion night party af­ter her spokesman said Senger called her to con­cede.

“Thank you for re-elect­ing me,” Men­doza said in a speech to a crowd at the Mar­riott Mar­quis ho­tel near McCormick Place.

“I'm truly hon­ored to be a part of this great dream team,” Men­doza said of be­ing on a win­ning Demo­cratic ticket that in­cluded Pritzker, who de­feated first-term Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner.

It re­mains to be seen, how­ever, whether she stays on the team. With the win, Men­doza si­mul­ta­ne­ously started the clock on fur­ther spec­u­la­tion over whether she will jump into the cam­paign for Chicago mayor.

While Men­doza was fac­ing a chal­lenge from Senger and Lib­er­tar­ian Claire Ball, much of the at­ten­tion on the race had fo­cused on what she'll do next.

As soon as Mayor Rahm Emanuel an­nounced in early Septem­ber that he wouldn't seek a third term, Men­doza's name sur­faced on the short list of high­pro­file can­di­dates who might vie to suc­ceed him. She has since said she was con­cen­trat­ing on get­ting elected to a first full term as comp­trol­ler, while not rul­ing out a run for mayor.

Last Fri­day, a seven-sec­ond snip­pet of a pos­si­ble “Men­doza for Mayor” ad got leaked to the me­dia in which she says, “I'm Su­sana Men­doza, and I'm run­ning for mayor of Chicago, and I ask you to join me on this jour­ney to­gether.”

Men­doza re­sponded in a state­ment that she was fo­cus­ing on the comp­trol­ler race. “I'm con­sid­er­ing a run for an­other of­fice and have taken steps to pre­pare for that should I choose to move for­ward, but I have not made any for­mal de­ci­sions,” she said.

That came af­ter Senger — a for­mer Illi­nois House mem­ber from Naperville — pres­sured Men­doza dur­ing a Sept. 18 ap­pear­ance be­fore the Chicago Tri­bune Ed­i­to­rial Board to pledge to serve the full four-year term if elected.

“I would like to see a com­mit­ment that on Nov. 7 if you're elected you're go­ing to be there for four years, and you're kind of hedg­ing it,” Senger said.

“I'm not hedg­ing on any­thing,” Men­doza replied. “I'm very com­mit­ted to be comp­trol­ler.”

But she did not rule out a may­oral run.

Then, on a WTTW can­di­date fo­rum in late Oc­to­ber, Men­doza said she would serve a full term — if Rauner got re-elected.

If Men­doza won re-elec­tion then got elected mayor, the gov­er­nor would get to pick her re­place­ment as comp­trol­ler.

If Men­doza de­cides to run for mayor, she has un­til Nov. 26 to get 12,500 sig­na­tures to get on the Feb. 26 mu­nic­i­pal bal­lot. Men­doza back­ers have been cir­cu­lat­ing the pe­ti­tions for weeks, giv­ing her a head start on the ef­fort.

AR­MANDO L. SANCHEZ/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Illi­nois Comp­trol­ler Su­sana Men­doza takes the stage at J.B. Pritzker’s elec­tion night party Tues­day.

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