Greek American Alexi Giannoulias wins the Democratic Primary for Illinois U.S. Senate Seat.
Chicago, Il.- Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer and party favorite, won the Democratic nomination for Illinois’s U.S. Senate seat in Tuesday’s election. He will face Mark Kirk in November’s general election. The seat he’ll be running for was held by Barack Obama, offered for sale by Rod Blagojevich, and is now occupied by Roland Burris, whose approval numbers are at historic lows.
Giannoulias had 39 percent of reported votes. Though he was the party favorite, newcomer David Hoffman gave him a run for his money, earning an estimated 34 percent of votes.
He slammed Giannoulias and accused him of being part of the state’s political machine throughout the race, but Hoffman vowed to support Giannoulias on Tuesday night.
“I know there is disappointment this room tonight, but let us not dwell on the disappointment of defeat, but instead let’s reflect on how far we’ve come and what we’ve been fighting for,” Hoffman said in his concession speech Tuesday. “Let us remember just how far we have come in a very short period of time.”
With 99% of precincts reporting
Giannoulias 345,407 39.0% Hoffman 298,988 33.8% Jackson 174,482 19.7% Marshall 50,786 5.7% Meister 16,013 1.8%
In a battle cry to GOP Senate primary winner Mark Kirk, Giannoulias said Tuesday night: “Your days as a Washington insider are over.”
Alexi Giannoulias was born on March 16, 1976, in Chicago, of Greek immigrants. His mother is from Chania and his father was from Kalavryta. Alexi graduated cum laude from Boston University with a degree in economics and earned a law degree from Tulane University’s School of Law. He formerly served on the board of directors of the Community Bankers Association and as Vice-President of Broadway Bank in Chicago’s Edgewater community. Giannoulias played professional basketball in Panionios B.C. Greece for a year (1998-99) before enrolling at Tulane University’s School of Law in New Orleans.
After earning his law degree and passing the Illinois Bar exam, Giannoulias took a position as Vice President and Senior Loan Officer at Broadway Bank, owned by his family. Alexi Giannoulias was elected State Treasurer of Illinois on November 7, 2006, capping off one of the more improbable victories in Illinois politics. Opposed by the insiders from the very start, he won the support of voters by proposing bold new initiatives and turning his back on politics as usual.
In a message to his supporters, Giannoulias stated:
“I am honored and humbled by the outpouring of support from the people of Illinois. Today, voters went to the polls seeking a way forward for our state and our nation in the midst of the greatest recession we have seen in generations.
Our victory tonight is a victory for those working families who have fought on the front lines of that recession. They wanted to hear about how we would create jobs and stand up to special interests. Because of you, we are now one step closer to bringing a strong voice for ordinary Americans to the U.S. Senate.
I want to thank all of you for this moment, especially those who have supported my campaign with their hard work phonebanking, donating, and canvassing. But today’s victory is just the beginning of a long journey ahead.
This general election battle will pit the interests of hard-working Illinois families against the corporate special interests that control Washington. Voters will be presented with a clear choice between a failed past and a promising future. And the biggest issue in this election is jobs. I will be a Senator who will fight every day to create the next generation of good-paying jobs here in Illinois.
Meanwhile, tonight, Republicans nominated Congressman Mark Kirk, a Washington insider who does not think jobs are a big deal.
Mark Kirk, who has been in Washington for 10 years, is out of touch with the needs and concerns of hard-working families. He has never shied away from taking their money and then voting their way. And while the Republican Party and its corporate allies will descend on our state as they try to take this seat away from the working families of Illinois, we enter that battle with the same energy, spirit and resolve that led to our victory this evening.
Tonight, though, we celebrate. Tomorrow, our work begins anew.
Thank you for standing with me.”
ILLINOIS A BATTLEFIELD
The Illinois balloting follows a Jan. 19 special election in Massachusetts where Republican Scott Brown invigorated his party by winning the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Democrat Edward Kennedy. A Democratic loss of the Senate seat once held by Obama would embarrass the party.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Jan. 29 during his party’s winter meeting in Hawaii that the Senate seat in Illinois will be a top Republican target.
“We began 2010 in the backyard of President Barack Obama, where he was born,” he said in Honolulu. “We will end the year, 2010, in Illinois taking his Senate seat.”
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement, “Each of the Democrats waged spirited, aggressive campaigns — the same approach it will take to keep this seat blue. I look forward to doing whatever I can to help the State Treasurer transition into the general election and of course win in November.”
“Voters in Illinois will face a stark choice in this election: moving forward with a candidate who has a record of saving Illinois jobs, or moving backwards with a Washington insider who wants to return to the failed policies that created the economic mess we now face.”
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Feb. 1 that the president and first lady Michelle Obama both voted by absentee ballot in Illinois. He didn’t reveal their candidate preferences.
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) congratulated Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a fellow Ahepan, on his victory in the Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, announced Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas.
“We extend our sincere congratulations to State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias who secured his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate with a victory in the Illinois primary.
“Alexi has always displayed outward pride of his Greek heritage, which is uplifting to see and an inspiration to many young Greek Americans.
“Moreover, we are proud to count Alexi Giannoulias as a member of AHEPA. Public service is an integral part of the AHEPA’s worthy mission. Brother Giannoulias certainly has demonstrated a commitment to serving the citizens of Illinois.”
Giannoulias became the youngest state treasurer in the nation having been elected at the age of 30. He founded and chairs the AG Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that donates money to treat child-related illnesses, curb property and assist disaster relief organizations.
PAPPAS & SPYROPOULOS
Two more Greek American won the Democratic Primaries. The 60-year-old Maria Pappas won the primaries for her re-election as treasurer of Cook County. The 44-year-old Mariyana Spiropoulos’ victory was for the position of Commissioner in the aforementioned district. Ms. Spiropoulos, lawyer and a Commissioner to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is the daughter of SAE US Region Coordinator Theodoros Spiropoulos.
Mariyana Spyropoulos was the leader in the nine-person race with 179,296 votes and Barbara McGowan with 178,272 plus newcomer Michael Alvarez who garnered 156,800. Results are still unofficial.
They will face Republicans Paul Chialdikas and Jimmy Lee Tillman II and Green Party candidates Nadine Bopp, Diana Horton and Jack Ailey on Nov. 2.
Spyropoulos is a Chicago attorney and former prosecutor appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to the board in 2009.