Chris Kennedy is expected to run for Governor of Illinois
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Following the withdrawal of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan from the Senatorial race, Alexi Giannoulias accelerated his campaign last week, and while he publicized the names of 60 elected officials that endorse his bid for U.S. Senator, he announced his latest fund-raising report and he launched a “Grassroots for Alexi” site, in an effort to engage online supporters. According to “progressillinois.com”, the site allows those interested to sign up for volunteer activities or to set up their own fundraising pages.
So far Alexi Giannoulias has raised $1.8 million for Senate bid, while his likely Democratic rivals have not even started yet. Giannouliasʼ momentum may force the only remaining high profile prospective candidate, Chris Kennedy (late Bob Kennedyʼs son) to seek the gubernatorial race instead, according to very reliable sources in Illinois.
Giannoulias who raised about $670,000 in the second quarter of 2009, speaking to the press said he was “humbled and honored” that in his “horrible economy, people were so generous.”
An Illinois newspaper reported that Giannoulias is also in a position to pour some of his own money in his campaign and his federal financial disclosure statement will show that he is worth between $13 million and $62 million.
According to the same press report, Merchandise Mart mogul Chris Kennedy, will be starting from scratch–and federal campaign caps on donations make it very time consuming to raise big pots of money. Chicago Urban League Chief Cheryle Jackson just opened her exploratory bid.
On the Republican side, Congressman Mark Kirk now has $1.3 million in the bank, according to FEC filings. Mark Kirk will announce today (Monday) he’s running for the Senate seat. GOP Chairman Andrew McKenna said last Monday he would not run if Kirk decided to run for Senate. Entrepreneur Eric M. Wallace of Matteson, Ill., has said he’s running.
On Monday, Alexi Giannoulias – who plans to officially launch his campaign in the coming weeks – released a list of endorsements from more than 60 elected officials who have pledged to support his campaign.
The list of backers includes Congressmen Bill Foster and Phil Hare, 32 state lawmakers, 10 Chicago aldermen and a handful of Cook County officials.
The initial list of supporters includes:
U.S. Congressman Phil Hare
U.S. Congressman Bill Foster State
State Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne
State Senator Terry Link
State Senator Deanna Demuzio
State Senator Gary Forby
State Senator Toi Hutchinson
State Senator Mike Jacobs
State Senator David Koehler
State Senator Iris Martinez
State Senator Kwame Raoul
State Senator Heather Steans
State Senator A.J. Wilhelmi
State Representative Joseph Lyons
State Representative Charles Jefferson
State Representative Frank Mautino
State Representative Luis Arroyo
State Representative Maria Antonia Berrios
State Representative James Brosnahan
State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia
State Representative Will Davis
State Representative Lisa Dugan
State Representative Robert Flider
State Representative Jack Franks
State Representative John Fritchey
State Representative Careen Gordon
State Representative Jay Hoffman
State Representative Kevin Joyce
State Representative Susana Mendoza
State Representative Harry Osterman
State Representative Brandon Phelps
State Representative Dan Reitz
State Representative Kathy Ryg
State Representative Pat Verschoore
Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool
Cook County Assessor James Houlihan
Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas
Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin
Chicago Alderman George Cardenas
Chicago Alderman Rey Colon
Chicago Alderman Vi Daley
Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti
Chicago Alderman Manny Flores
Chicago Alderman Richard Mell
Chicago Alderman Virginia Rugai
Chicago Alderman Gene Schulter
Chicago Alderman Mary Ann Smith
Chicago Alderman Daniel Solis
Richland County Chairman Randy Blackford
Vermilion County Chairman Don Dunavan
Franklin County Chairman Jim Eaton
Will County Chairman Tim Gaffney
Kane County Chairman Mark Guethle
Randolph County Chairman Doyle “Zig” Jones
Scott County Chairwoman Terri Lashmett
Christian County Chairman Jack Mazzotti
DuPage County Chairman Bob Peickert
McLean County Chairman John Penn
LaSalle County Chairman Rocky Raikes
Clay County Chairman Charles Sailer
Will County Executive Larry Walsh
Douglas County Chairman Mike Woods, Sr.
Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner
East Moline Mayor John Thodos
Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch
“It takes time to raise money,” said Giannoulias. People who wrote him checks for $50,000 in his state campaigns–with no donor limits–are so hard up now that he’s lucky to get a $500 check from the same contributor, he said.
FULTON COUNTY D.P.
Alexi Giannoulias discussed his intentions to run for the U.S. Senate on Monday at Fulton County Democratic Party headquarters in Canton. A crowd of more than 30 people, including several locally elected officials, was on hand.
Giannoulias said he has formed an exploratory committee and within two weeks will formally announce his campaign to run for the seat held by outgoing U.S. Sen. Roland Burris. Burris is a Democrat who was appointed to the Senate seat by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and recently said he will not seek election next year to keep the seat.
That seat formerly was held by Barack Obama and was vacated after he ran for president. Giannoulias was endorsed by Obama when he ran for state treasurer.
Giannoulias said Obama was his mentor. He said he has known Obama for 12 years. They met by playing basketball together.
Giannoulias was raised in Chicago. Both his mother and father are Greek immigrants. He enrolled at the University of Chicago before transfering to Boston University, where he played Division I basketball.
Giannoulias played professional basketball in Panionios B.C. Greece for a year (1998-99) before enrolling at Tulane Universityʼs School of Law in New Orleans. After earning his law degree and passing the Illinois Bar exam, he took a position as vice president and senior loan officer at Broadway Bank, owned by his family, the online information said.
Giannoulias said he speaks about his parents often. They came to this country with no money and unable to speak the language. But they believed in the promise of America — that if they worked hard, sacrificed and were willing to struggle, they could make it.
Giannoulias said he felt he could do more with his life, and politics offers a great avenue for public service and a way to make the country a better place. At age 29, never having run for public office before, he sought a statewide position. Some said he was too young, not ready, but he traveled across the state and offered his vision. In the 2 1/2 years since he was elected, “we accomplished every single thing we set out to do,” he said.
He said he adopted a wide-ranging ethics package, so there would not be even a perception of questionable ethics, by signing an order that prohibits him from accepting contributions from banks, employees of his office and contractors who do business with the state treasurer’s office.
He also said he improved the office’s Bright Start College Savings Program, a $2 billion trust fund, from one of the worst in the nation to among the top three in the country, according to Money Magazine and Consumer Reports.
During the credit freeze, Giannoulias made up to $1 billion in interest-earning deposits available to Illinois banks and credit unions to free up more money for business and consumer loans. He provided a “10 percent down” home program and started a financial literacy program about asset accumulation and the importance of owning a home. Giannoulias also said he “professionalized” how $15 billion in state funds are invested every day.
Giannoulias said he wants to “bring integrity back to public service” and sees challenges at the national level where one in six homeowners is in or on the verge of foreclosure, where unemployment in Illinois is now over 10 percent, where it is more difficult to keep businesses open, and college tuition has gotten out of hand for many who wish to attend.
He said a lesson his parents taught him was that when times are tough and people are scared about the future, there are two ways to react: just get on the couch, watch television, and whine and complain; or stand up, make sacrifices and lead. Giannoulias said he will stand up, not sit back and complain. The next few years represent a seminal moment in history of the United States, he said.
“That’s why I want to run for the United States Senate,” Giannoulias added.
He said people have shown excitement about new leadership, innovative ideas to create jobs and bringing integrity back to public office. That is good but the challenge will not be easy, he said. He promised he will work hard in the campaign as well as an elected senator.