Frerichs to run for state treasurer
CHAMPAIGN — Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs announced Friday that he has formed a campaign team to manage a race for state treasurer next year.
He made the announcement on the same day that he had a "pre-slating" interview in Chicago with members of the Cook County Democratic Party organization. The actual slating of the party's recommended candidates will be in August.
Two other Democrats also expressed interest in the treasurer's office, Frerichs said.
"I did not see who they were," he said. "I know they were both from Chicago."
The current state treasurer, Republican Dan Rutherford, already has announced that he is running for governor in the March 2014 primary.
At least three Republicans are considering entering the GOP primary for treasurer: Frerichs' Senate colleague Darin LaHood of Peoria; former DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, who ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2010; and Bob Grogan, the DuPage County auditor.
Coincidentally, Frerichs was the Champaign County auditor from 2004 to 2006. He also served four years on the Champaign County Board.
Frerichs said he was encouraged by the response he got Friday from the Cook County Democrats.
"There was a lot of talk about the need for geographical balance" on the statewide Democratic ticket, he said. "And there were other people there who know me and said good things about me."
If elected, Frerichs would be the first individually elected statewide Democratic officeholder from downstate Illinois since the late James Donnewald, also state treasurer, in 1983. Donnewald was from Clinton County.
The current lieutenant governor, Sheila Simon, is from Carbondale, but she was elected in tandem with Gov. Pat Quinn.
Frerichs would be the first person from Champaign County elected on a statewide basis since Superintendent of Public Instruction Vernon Nickell, a Republican, was re-elected to a fourth term in 1954.
Frerichs said that a formal campaign announcement could follow in a few weeks.
"We'll see what happens in the next two to three weeks," he said. "If we continue to make progress, you'll see the formal rollout after that."
The announcement isn't a major surprise since Frerichs, a state senator since 2007, had said earlier this year that he was mulling a run for statewide office. Later, Champaign County Democratic Party Chairman Al Klein acknowledged that Frerichs was organizing a campaign for state treasurer.
Frerichs said at the time that treasurer was "one of the offices I'm looking at," noting that he earned certification as a public finance officer and had been awarded a certificate for excellence in financial reporting for his work as auditor.
The current treasurer, Republican Dan Rutherford, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor next year.
"I want to announce my team as we move forward with a run for the Democratic Party's nomination for treasurer," Frerichs said in a prepared statement. "I have traveled the state in the past several months, and people are looking for strong and experienced leadership in the treasurer's office.
"I offer my proven record of transparency, accountability and a commitment to making taxpayers' investments work for the citizens of Illinois. Together, with the team I'm announcing today, and my strong backing from supporters across the state, I hope to earn the support of voters to be the next Democratic nominee for state treasurer."
As of March 31, Frerichs' campaign fund had more than $515,000.
He has added at least $31,500 since, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Most of Frerichs' recent major contributions are from labor unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union, $2,500; Illinois Federation of Teachers $1,500; and Local 841 of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Terre Haute, Ind., $1,500.
Any other Democrat interested in the race would start from a financial disadvantage, according to Zach Koutsky, Frerichs' campaign manager, who said that the Champaign Democrat has more money than any other treasurer candidate in Illinois history at this point in the campaign.
Frerichs, 39, grew up in Gifford, attended Rantoul Township High School and was in the first generation of his family to attend college — Yale University.
Koutsy, the campaign manager, was deputy campaign manager in his 2006 state Senate race against Judy Myers of Danville and was his chief of staff in 2007. Koutsky also worked in the 2008 Obama election campaign. Frerichs' organization also includes the Strategy Group of Evanston, direct mail; GBA Strategies of Chicago, polling; and Nancy Kohn Consulting of Chicago, fundraising.