Monday, February 8, 2010

Consummate "Insider" Dick Durbin to Bail Out Alexi Giannoulias Senate Campaign

In an fairly unsurprising development, the senior U.S. Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, will be taking the reins of the campaign of Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias, which has already gotten off to a poor start. Giannoulias faced a surprisingly strong primary challenge from former Asst. U.S. Attorney and Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, taking hits with respect to Giannoulias' purported ethical lapses and shady banking connections, and having to spend down a good deal of his campaign war chest that he had built up in expectation of battling Republican Congressman Mark Kirk in the November general election. As of the latest polling, Mark Kirk leads Giannoulias 46% to 40%. It's clear that it's not just the Republicans who recognize that Alexi is already in trouble, says HuffPo:

The addition of a heavyweight such as Durbin shows just how serious the Democrats are about the threat posed by Rep. Mark Kirk, a fifth-term congressman from Chicago's north suburbs and the Republican candidate for the seat. It also shows where the focus of the race will be, geographically speaking. Durbin is very popular downstate, and with Kirk and Giannoulias both coming from Chicagoland, the two will be fighting hard to win voters in central and southern Illinois.

Contrary to what HuffPo would have us believe, I'm not sure if I agree that Durbin is all that popular in Illinois, although he's been pretty politically bulletproof over the past few years as the GOP has run ineffective candidates and allowed him to built up a warchest of over $5 million the last time I checked. How effective Durbin will be as the figurehead for Giannoulias remains to be seen. Durbin has pulled a few boner moves in his career, including asking President Bush to pardon former Governor George Ryan, comparing American servicemen to Nazis, and strongly supporting the sale of Thomson prison to the Feds as a jobs-creation measure, which seemed to be fairly unpopular and may be a bust, if in fact it never happens.

Durbin has long since showed his preference for and support of Giannoulias to take the junior Senate seat, ever since Durbin invited Alexi along to carry his briefcase on a trip to Greece this same time last year, for no other apparent purpose than to try to burnish Alexi's nonexistent foreign policy credentials.

The Giannoulias camp is already trying to downplay expectations and even trying to take on the mantle of underdog, at least with respect to fundraising:

"We know we're going to be outspent," Durbin told The Associated Press. He noted that the National Republican Senatorial Campaign began running negative advertising the day after Giannoulias won Tuesday's primary. "We realize we're the underdogs to this onslaught of money."

As we've pointed out before, the notion that Alexi is any kind of underdog, in a blue state like Illinois, where the Dems have a lock on every constitutional office, plus close to absolute control of the General Assembly, is a bit laughable.

Moreover, the Giannoulias campaign has already been testing a general election campaign theme of running against Kirk as a "Washington Insider," based on Kirk's 10 years as a Congressman. One wonders if that message, should Giannoulias try to stick with it, will fall flat when people look at the fact that Durbin, who if anything is even more of an "insider" (being the #2 man in the Senate) than Kirk, is now chairing the Giannoulias campaign.

The good news for us is that the Dems really think they are in trouble with Alexi as their candidate, and he's not likely to go the way of Scott Lee Cohen.


Adam Smith said...

Everything Alexi does is both laughable and smelling of desperation.

"Washington Insider???" That's the best they can come up with to attack Kirk? As ususal, the Dems just rely on their assumption that the voters are completely stupid and will fall for anything.

Every claim in a campaign invites a contrast with the candidate making the claim. If Kirk IS a DC insider, what is Alexi? A Springfield Insider?

If Kirk automatically becomes a DC insider just because he serves there, then Alexi must also be a Springfield Insider by that logic.

And if you think Illinois voters are displeased with the Washington crowd, they have a much greater disdain, bordering on contempt, for the Springfield crowd that has nearly ruined the state.

Keep it up Alexi. You're doing just fine.

Anonymous said...

I think the best news here is that Alexi is gonna stay in the race.

Anonymous said...

How pathetic listening to our senior Senator, Dick Durbin, this morning. Does he really think the voters in IL appreciate what he's been doing in DC with this administration that's totally out of touch with the average American. And he's saying that Mark Kirk is the ultimate DC insider. And Durbin? And Alexi? If this is the best that Durbin can do I think we're in for a very interesting 10 months.

Anonymous said...

For now, Alexi is not going the way of Scott Lee Cohen, but should the Feds close Broadway Bank when the Family is unwilling to return $50 of the $70 million it took out to make the bank insolvent, things could change.

I will be shocked to see Alexi as the candidate by Labor Day. There’s too much dirt to surface on the Broadway Bank.

If he is not forced out, just wait until Mark runs a commercial featuring some of the people Alexi’s decisions as the bank’s chief loan officer who lost their homes and jobs. Where’s does Alexi’s message about jobs go then.

8th District Committeeman said...

(major snark alert)
I'm not sure if this a good thing or bad thing. It's bad in that I thought Durbin was supposed to be in Washington representing me. But it's good news in that Durbins no longer in Washington (not) representing me.