In 1978 the Democratic Party selected Michael Bakalis, the young State Comptroller, to run for governor against 'Big' Jim Thompson, a popular young governor with just two years in office. Bakalis had become involved in Illinois Democratic politics in the late 1960s while he was a young faculty member at Northern Illinois University. In 1970 the Democratic Party slated him to run for Superintendent of Public Education, and he won after a spirited campaign. In 1976 he was elected as the State Comptroller. In 1978 Bakalis ran as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, but the race was more about image than issues, and he managed to pull only 40 percent of the vote against Thompson’s 59 percent.