Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a close personal friend and financial supporter of Obama, won yesterday's Democratic primary for the President's former Senate seat, and Carol Felsenthal from The Hill's pundits blog calls the result "a gift" to five-term congressman Mark Kirk against whom Giannoulias will be running in November:
So the nominee is Giannoulias, who comes equipped with a spotty record — under his watch, parents who put money into a college savings account lost as much as half of it — and ties to a family bank currently in meltdown and in the headlines. Last week government regulators ordered Broadway Bank, founded by Giannoulias's father, now run by his brother, to accept federal oversight, to raise millions in capital and to stop making payments to family members without federal approval. When Giannoulias was the bank's chief loan officer, loans were made to organized-crime figures and to a name familiar to most Illinoisans, Tony Rezko — a political fixer, now in prison, of almost comic-book sleaziness.
Indeed, the Giannoulias win -- secured with the support of only 39% of the vote -- has Democrats peeing their pants over the likely loss of the Senate seat to Republican Kirk who is "a centrist-leaning suburbanite" with "appeal to the state's independent voters and even some moderate Democrats" as reported by Monica Davey for The New York Times:
Mr. Kirk, who has favored abortion rights and cap-and-trade legislation intended to reduce carbon emissions, irks some of the most conservative Republicans in this state, including some who describe themselves as supporters of a Tea Party movement. He has since said he would oppose the cap-and-trade bill, a switch some saw as an effort to appeal more to conservatives. But political analysts believe his best chances of success may actually depend on him seizing independents and fed-up Democrats — segments that may have helped moderate Republicans, like James Edgar and James R. Thompson, former governors, win in this state years ago.
Giannoulias promised that if he won the Democratic primary he would clear up questions concerning his role at Broadway Bank from 2002 to 2006 when he served as its chief lending officer, and so today the National Republican Senatorial Committee "issued the following suggested questions for reporters to ask Giannoulias":
Did you authorize $15.4 million in loans to Michael "Jaws" Giorango - a crime boss that ran prostitution rings and engaged in illegal gambling?
Did your decision to remove millions of dollars from Broadway Bank lead to the bank's now-brink of collapse? Will you help to recapitalize the bank?
Did your father contribute $10,000 to disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for your brother's state board appointment - and did Tony Rezko push for his appointment?
In light of your ethical dilemmas, has President Obama promised to campaign with you? Has he called to congratulate you on your win last evening?