Alexi Giannoulias heads for victory in Illinois senatorial race. Greek American Harry Wilson runs for N.Y. State Comptroller.
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Boosted by the presence of President Barack Obama and other prominent Chicago politicians, including Mayor Richard Daley, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias makes his final push to win Obama’s old seat in the U.S. Senate. The race is tied, with polls showing Giannoulias’ opponent Mark Kirk with a slim 2 point advantage. But Giannoulias campaign hopes that Obama’s presence will encourage the Democratic voters – especially African Americans and Latinos – to vote on Tuesday.
“Chicago, I need you to keep on fighting. Illinois, I need you to keep on believing,” Obama said to a huge crowd in the Midway Plaisance at the University of Chicago.
President Barack Obama tried Saturday night to encourage the voters in a hometown rally to overcome forecasts of a Republican wave of victories that would end the Democrats’ one-party control of Washington.
“If you’re willing to step up, if you’re willing to try … we will restore our economy. We will rebuild the middle class and we will reclaim the American dream for another generation and generations to come.”
Obama told those gathered in Hyde Park that “there is no doubt that this is a tough election.” But ceding control to Republicans would be returning to failed economic policies of the past, he added.
The president urged voters “just like you did in 2008” to defy conventional wisdom, “the kind that says you can’t overcome cynicism in politics, you can’t overcome the special interests, you can’t overcome the big money, you can’t overcome the negativity, you can’t overcome the big challenges anymore.”
“In three days, you’ve got the chance to once again say what?” he asked as the crowd responded with the signature phrase of his 2008 presidential campaign: “Yes we can.”
Candidates for Illinois governor and the president’s former Senate seat are locked in tight races. Mr. Obama made a last-ditch plea for Democrats to turn out on election day.
When the president mounted the Midway Plaisance stage, the crowd estimated at 35,000 roared approval of its hometown hero.
“Hello, Chicago!” the president said. “It’s good to be home.”
“If everybody who fought for change in 2008 shows up in 2010, we will win this election,” Obama said. “In three days, you can say, ‘Yes, we can!'”
The president Obama urged voters to defy expectations and tamp down a Republican tide that many people expect to crest in Tuesday’s elections.
“Chicago, it’s up to you to let them know that we have not forgotten; we don’t have amnesia,” the president told a large outdoor crowd near his home, referring to the economic recession that hit during George W. Bush’s presidency. “This election is a choice between policies that got us into this mess and the policies that are starting to lead us out of this mess.”
“We got any Democrats in the house?” 34 year old Giannoulias asked the crowd. “I can’t hear you. We got any Democrats in the house?”
“In order to help the President move this country forward, we need all of you to get out and vote, to remind everyone what’s at stake,” said U.S. Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias Saturday morning.
The Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) is staffing a get-out-the-vote phone bank at a South Side union hall. The CFL says has already contacted one-half million voters.
Democrats say they believe if they motivate their base in Illinois, they cannot lose.
“Don’t you to listen to no pollster. Don’t you believe the change ain’t coming!” said U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. “Stop complaining, and get out and vote!”
39 year old Harry Wilson, a Harvard graduate and a financial wizard is running against incumbent New York State Comptroller DiNapoli. Harry was born on October 25, 1971 in upstate Johnstown, New York. The son and grandson of Greek immigrants, he learned early on the value of hard work from his father, a bartender, and his mother, a homemaker and sewing-machine operator. Harry worked his way through high school at his uncle’s restaurant and served as class president every year.
“My mother was born in Greece, in a small village near Karditsa and she came in the United States in 1971. His father was born in Georgetown NY with both parents from Greece. My wife is Greek as well. We have four daughters”, Wilson told an audience of Bay Ridge business leaders, including many Greek Americans, at a business forum organized by former NY State Assemblyman Matthew Mirones.
Matthew Mirones encouraged the audience to send to Albany Harry Wilson and a Greek American Candidate Nicole Malliotakis, who is running as a Republican and Conservative for his old seat (60 NYSA Dis. Brooklyn, Staten Island).
“Sheldon Silver is the biggest obstacle to reform New York State Government”, Mirones said.
“Wilson represents the best to the Greek American values. He is the only candidate with the necessary credentials to bring reform and transparency”.
Nicole Malliotakis ask the voters to support her on Tuesday.
“We need to bring back the integrity Matthew Mirones brought to the seat”, Malliotakis said.
Addressing the audience, Wilson explained why he is running for State Comptroller.
“The reason is very simple. Our state is in the early stages of a massive fiscal crisis created by a career political class in Albany. So let’s bring new people with fresher ideas and expertise.”
Harry Wilson presented to the audience a dark fiscal future for the State of New York, predicting the deficit to climb to $50 bl. The debt obligations per household are in the range of $45,000.
“It is not that far from Greece. We may have a more solid economy, but we are heading to the same direction”.
Wilson said that as a New York State Comptroller and with the business background he has, he will be able to do something about it, as he did with the turnaround of General Motors, where he participated as the only Republican in the task force appointed by President Obama.
“We have a massive opportunity in the State of New York with someone who has the skills to change the course of our state.”
Wilson presented his program to reduce taxes that are one the highest in the nation.
“We are a great state. He have tremendous people, great natural resources and great infrastructure, great cultural institutions, tremendous assets; great things to create a business and raise a family. But we are suffocated by one of the worst tax rates in the nation. We have the skills and the guts to go there and change it.”
Wilson criticized Comptroller Di Napoli for being part of the corrupted machine responsible for the bad shape of New York State and also NY State Assembly Speaker Silver.
“There is a massive ethical problem in Albany”, he said, promising to clean it up.
Wilson called on his supporters to help him both financially and with their votes on November 2. He also encouraged them to support Nicole Malliotakis in her bid to gain the state assembly seat in Brooklyn-Staten Island.
Real World Experience
With the values instilled by his family and a first-class education from Harvard, Harry set off to build his career. His personal interest in the markets and his natural negotiating skills led him to the financial sector. Harry played a wide variety of roles at four highly distinguished financial firms:
Goldman Sachs, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, The Blackstone Group, and Silver Point Capital. At these firms, Harry employed a broad set of skills essential to the Comptroller’s role as sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund: building and developing a world-class investment team; making asset allocation decisions; assessing institutional investors and fund managers; and negotiating complex transactions. Furthermore, Harry spent a significant portion of his career working with, investing in or acquiring and restructuring distressed companies. He used his analytical and leadership skills to determine how to fix company problems, particularly rooting out waste and inefficiencies, and worked with management to do just that. This skill set fits well with the Comptroller’s power to audit government spending – with Harry’s background and experience, he will be able to take a far more aggressive and creative approach to reigning in runaway spending and devising creative ways to improve existing programs.
Last year, Harry agreed to serve on the President’s Auto Task Force – the group responsible for the overhaul of General Motors and Chrysler. As a fiscal conservative who believes in free markets, Harry wanted a say in how the auto bailout plan was administered. If both President Bush and President Obama were going to move forward with it, he wanted to make sure it was done right, and only once. Harry was the only Republican to join the leadership team of the Task Force. Harry staunchly opposed the Chrysler bailout and made the case repeatedly to his colleagues. He thought the company had a low probability of turning the corner, so the bailout was not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. He is proud, however, of his work to fundamentally restructure General Motors – its board, its management, its operations and its labor arrangements. With the revised operating and labor cost structure and capital structure created through the restructuring, Harry believes General Motors can again become a profitable automaker.