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Mendoza says she’s not made by ‘machine,’ can do math

Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza spoke Thursday at at the Illinois Democrat breakfast on Democrat Day at the Illinois State Fair. | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD — Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza on Thursday fired back at claims made by Comptroller Leslie Munger — her November challenger for state comptroller — that she’s “not so good at math” and was put in place by men of the Chicago “machine.”

“The sexist notion that any one of us was put in a position of power . . . only through the power of men. That has no place in 2016. And it’s something that’s straight out of the Donald Trump playbook on women,” Mendoza said at the Illinois Democrat breakfast on Democrat Day at the Illinois State Fair.

“I’d never say that about women because it’s never been my experience and little girls everywhere, across the country, they should know that they can play great in a man’s world and brilliantly succeed on their very own,” she said.

Mendoza, who was a state representative for 10 years before being elected city clerk in 2011, faces Munger, a former business executive with Unilever Helene Curtis, in the November election. Munger was appointed to the position by Gov. Bruce Rauner after the death of Republican Judy Baar Topinka.

Mendoza’s remarks came after Munger on Wednesday sought to link her to the Chicago “machine” — a common theme during Republican Day: “She’s used the Chicago machine to jump from office to office, and now she wants to do it again because she cannot run on her record,” Munger said.

Munger added that Mendoza calls Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan her “mentor” and helped Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his re-election campaign.

And she questioned her math skills: “We have to ask ourselves. What’s her deal? Maybe she’s not so good at math. Maybe she doesn’t really understand what the comptroller does,” Munger said of Mendoza.

The math claim was put to the test by a Chicago Tribune columnist, who asked Mendoza to answer three multiplication equations prior to her rally remarks: 7 x 8, 9 x 3 and 8 x 4. Munger was also asked the same questions at the state fair rally on Wednesday. But Mendoza told the rally crowd she got all three right, but Munger got just one right.

“How great is that? The chief fiscal officer in the state of Illinois, Leslie Munger, doesn’t know how to multiply simple arithmetic numbers right. How about this? If you want 33 percent efficiency, go with Leslie Munger. If you want 100 percent, then I’m your girl,” Mendoza said.

Munger’s campaign on Thursday said the math game was “just a cheap shot by a bush league columnist.”

“Leslie’s record of leading an $800 million brand speaks for itself,” Munger campaign manager Phillip Rodriguez said.

Her campaign said she was “blindsided” by the questions and had just stepped off the stage after making remarks in hot weather at the rally on Wednesday. The campaign said she also didn’t understand the columnist’s accent and wasn’t given a context for his questions.