As we noted a few days ago, the presumed front-runner for the Dem nomination for U.S. Senate, current State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, has a problem coming up in his rear-view mirror, and his name is David Hoffman, former Asst. U.S. Attorney and recent Chicago Inspector General.
Just like GOP candidates must be wary of the right-wing of their own party, Dem candidates can't neglect their left-wing base, at least in the primary. President Obama's recent (and at least a good step in the right direction (UPDATED: Karl Rove seems to agree) decision to send his generals most of what they asked for to support the war in Afghanistan presents a problem for many fairly moderate Dems that road Obama's coattails into office, but now a face a choice between supporting their dear leader, or going it alone to please the left wing base of their party.
Today, Politico looks at this issue and notes that the conundrum has reached the U.S. Senate race as Alexi finds himself to the right of his two chief adversaries (and in general agreement with his presumed GOP rival, Congressman Mark Kirk):
In Illinois, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson – two outsider candidates waging uphill bids in the battle for Obama’s old Senate seat – have staked out positions to the left of frontrunner Alexi Giannoulias, the cash-flush state treasurer who supports the president’s plan.
What Politico doesn't note is that Alexi doesn't really have much choice here -- about the only way he's going to have a chance in the general election against Mark Kirk is to have the White House come in, and come in big.
Let's leave aside the well-known issue that Alexi was not the White House's first choice for this race, nothwithstanding Alexi's basketball relationship with the Prez. Per the New York Times a few days ago:
Mr. Axelrod concedes that he and Mr. Obama failed to persuade Attorney General Lisa Madigan to run for the Senate seat vacated by Mr. Obama. “She would have walked into the seat,” Mr. Axelrod says. White House qualms about the Democratic frontrunner, Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois treasurer, are self-evident, with worry that the Republican challenger, Representative Mark Kirk, will be needlessly formidable.
“The Blago saga will hang heavy over our politics, and that’s what Kirk’s banking on,” Mr. Axelrod says.
Well, Alexi's need to set up Obama's strong support later in the general election pretty much boxes him in to sinking or swimming with the President now.
Will this wedge issue be enough for Hoffman to pull it out? It's still too early to tell, even though there's basically only two months until the primary. But Obama's decision has handed Alexi his first big foreign policy decision, and he's come down on the side of his likely opponent -- Mark Kirk -- in the event he makes it to the general.
I still think Alexi's going to win (the primary). But his road just got a little tougher.
UPDATED 9:35 a.m.: Here's an AP article .
UPDATED x2 9:55 a.m.: Senator Dick Durbin doesn't know what to think. Better take a poll, pal, or wait until you see what it does to Alexi, I guess. Sheesh, you're not even up for election and you have about a zillion dollars in your campaign account. How about a little leadership on the issue? Or are you a little gunshy in the wake of your disastrous push of the Great Lakes Gitmo?
UPDATED x3 11:35 a.m.: Will the left even show up to the general mid-term election at this rate?
UPDATED x4 12:20 p.m.: Popular opinion appears to be solidifying that GOP contender Pat Hughes' bid to usurp Mark Kirk as the presumed GOP nominee for U.S. Senate has simply not gotten far enough, fast enough, to have any real chance of winning. It's a good thing, too, considering that Alexi is up with a new commercial and the comments over at Capitol Fax Blog suggest that it's a winner. Check it out. As they say downtown, you can't fight somebody with nobody, so it's good that Illinois is not Florida.