Alexi Giannoulias, currently the State Treasurer of Illinois, needs money. No, not on behalf of the State of Illinois, although it is so far in the red, it may never see black, it seems. No, we're talking about Alexi's $3 million fundraising deficit compared to his GOP opponent, 5th-term Congressman Mark Kirk. Kirk has about $3.9 million cash on hand, it has been reported, while Alexi lags around a million, and Kirk outraised Alexi $2.3 million to just $900,000 last quarter.
So Alexi desperately needs some dough. Enter his basketball buddy, President Obama. Alexi just happens to be running to fill the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama when he was elected president, and we all know what an embarrassment it would be if the Dems lost that seat.
Well, President Obama has finally decided to come to Alexi's rescue, or try to, after sending in some minions, including even Vice-president Joe Biden. However, apparently all the King's Men couldn't get the job done and move the fundraising needle for poor Alexi.
But will Obama do much better? The latest fundraisers that Obama has headlined apparently have had to slash ticket prices to just fill the venue. Does Obama (with deepening disapproval levels) still pack enough panache, even in his adopted home state, to really bring in the big dough for Alexi? We shall see. The Tribune also points out that Obama's visit will likely come while the defense is presenting its case in the corruption trial of disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich - with White House advisor Valerie Jarrett a potential witness to be called by the defense. As they say, timing is everything...
No one is letting go of the "mob banker" tag laid on Giannoulias either, and the Republican National Committee sought to draw a sharp distinction between Obama's stance against 'fat cat' bankers and his intent to raise money for Giannoulias:
"President Obama's hypocrisy is stunning -- one minute you hear him attacking the 'fat cat bankers' and the next he is raising money for a mob banker in Illinois," RNC spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said in a statement. "As someone who promotes transparency and openness on a daily basis, President Obama should be condemning Mr. Giannoulias for his risky actions and associations, not raising money to support his campaign for U.S. Senate."
Team Kirk, by the way, has spent months preparing for this eventuality. So, I am not too concerned, and certainly not worried that they didn't see this coming. We all knew Obama would show up eventually. The only question now is, what will happen once he shows?