Holy Toledo! Former mob-connected investment banker and Obama basketball buddy and current Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is going to challenge recently appointed Senator Roland Burris for Senate in 2010, according to Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, 32, opens his exploratory bid for Senator today hoping his close association with President Obama, generational appeal, record and early start locks him in as a front-runner in what today is a very undefined field.
Giannoulias, I am told, is running no matter the election scenario or the other contenders. Last week, William Daley, the former Commerce Secretary and mayoral brother, floated his name in order to head off Giannoulias securing early endorsements. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) is also mulling a run, with her chances of getting in more likely in a special election.
Former Obama fundraiser Jordan Kaplan is in charge of raising the necessary funds for Giannoulias’ campaign, estimated at 5 million for the primary and 15 million for the general election.
In the 2006 Democratic primary…Obama endorsed first-time candidate Alexi Giannoulias for state treasurer despite reports about loans Giannoulias’ family-owned Broadway Bank made to crime figures. Records show Giannoulias and his family had given more than $10,000 to Obama’s campaign, which banked at Broadway.
In response to the criticism over this and his endorsement of Dorothy Tillman, who had been accused of getting jobs for her relatives under former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington,
Obama rejected the notion that such endorsements conflict with his promotion of ethics reform in government.
“I have been very proud of my track record as a state legislator and as a U.S. senator in terms of maintaining highly ethical behavior throughout my public life,” he said in a recent interview. “Dorothy Tillman and Alexi Giannoulias were strong supporters of mine. There were no allegations that they had done anything illegal. And it was not a conflict for me to show my support for them.”
A man who has long been dogged by charges that the bank his family owns helped finance a Chicago crime figure will host a Windy City fund-raiser tonight for Sen. Barack Obama.
Alexi Giannoulias, who became Illinois state treasurer last year after Obama vouched for him, has pledged to raise $100,000 for the senator’s Oval Office bid.
Obama kept his Senate campaign funds in Giannoulias’ Broadway Bank in 2004, but did not use the bank for his Presidential campaign funds. Another friend of Barack Obama’s, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, was also a Giannoulias customer, and used the Broadway Bank to float $450,000 in bad checks while gambling in Las Vegas.
The senior Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin is apparently backing Giannoulis, arguing that Burris is “unelectable.” So it looks like the deal is done.