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More than $39M invested in state’s top contested races

Leslie Munger | Rich Hein/Sun-Times | video

There’s a staggering $39 million of political cash invested in 10 of the state’s top contested races just days before Election Day.

At the top of the list is the Illinois comptroller’s race. It’s been the most expensive contest in the state for weeks after incumbent Republican Leslie Munger began receiving millions in contributions from wealthy donors like packaging magnate and GOP mega donor Richard Uihlein and the state’s richest man, hedge fund manager Ken Griffin.

The largest donation this week came from Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife Diana. The Rauners contributed $1 million to Munger’s campaign on Oct. 31. With just days to go, Munger has more than $8 million in her political war chest — $5 million of that contributed by Griffin in mid-October, campaign records show.

Munger’s campaign fund has been used to transfer money to the Illinois Republican Party to help fund contested races. Citizens for Durkin, the campaign committee of Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, is also being used to fund races — despite him not facing an opponent this election season.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his Democratic allies are using multiple political committees to fund candidates. It allows them to gather more money from donors than would be allowed for a single committee under state campaign finance laws. Funds also are being moved from one committee to another.

Democratic challenger for comptroller, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, has nearly $2.7 million in her campaign fund. Her largest donation received was $650,000 from the Democratic Party of Illinois on Oct. 31, according to records.

There were large numbers of transfers in the final week before the election, including, $500,000 transferred from Citizens for Durkin to the House Republican Organization. The Democratic Majority also transferred $400,000 to Friends of Kate Cloonen whose race in the 79th District is now the second most expensive in the state.

Democrats are focusing on Sam Yingling’s race as well in the 62nd District, transferring more than $500,000 to support his campaign. And the Democratic Party of Illinois also transferred $250,000 to Mendoza’s campaign in the final days of the campaign, records show.

Here are the top 10 contested state races and total money raised so far, via the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Incumbents are listed first:

1) Comptroller, Leslie Munger (R), Susana Mendoza (D): $10.7 million
2) House, Kate Cloonen (D), Lindsay Parkhurst (R): $4.1 million
3) House, Daniel Beiser (D), Michael Babcock (R): $3.86 million
4) Senate, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D), Michelle Smith (R): $3.76 million
5) Senate, Thomas Cullerton (D), Seth Lewis (R): 3.37 million
6) House, Sam Yingling (D), Rod Drobinski (R): $2.97 million
7) House, Dwight Kay (R), Katie Stuart (D): $2.93 million
8) House, Michael McAuliffe (R), Merry Marwig (D), $2.75 million
9) House, Andy Skoog (D), Jerry Long (R), $2.63 million
10) House, John Bradley (D), Dave Severin (R), $2.43 million