It's getting clearer and clearer that Congressman Mark Kirk has a big advantage going into the Illinois race for U.S. Senate this fall: cash. And he's going to need it. But it bodes ill for his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias who, aside from a fundraising cash infusion thanks to his basketball buddy, President Obama, last month, has badly trailed Kirk. The Chicago media market is extremely expensive, and while it's not the whole state, is definitely going to be a battleground that will suck up funds from both sides.
Besides Kirk's own multi-million war chest, the national GOP has already pledged around $3.4 million to help the cause. They know what the stakes are. And so do the Democrats: while the DSCC has not made public any commitment to Alexi, based on the recent comments of Senator Dick Durbin (who happens to be Alexi's campaign chairman), that level of national money simply isn't going to be made available to Alexi.
What's a little odd, though, is that the Dems are using the potential loss of Obama's former Senate seat as a fundraising gimmick to their donor base, while on the other hand seeming to back away from a serious commitment to Alexi financially. From The Hill:
In a last-minute fundraising appeal, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) warned that capturing President Obama's former Senate seat would be the "ultimate political trophy" for Republicans in 2010.
"Nothing would give them more bragging rights than winning this seat," Menendez wrote in a fundraising e-mail Tuesday. "Polling shows we're in a dead heat, and your gift now will help level the playing field in this and other important races."
Then, we have Alexi out on the campaign trail claiming that he's going to be a candidate who is not beholden to President Obama, Dick Durbin, or other top Dems. Yeah, right. Alexi is now all of a sudden "Mr. Independent" and will boldly give Obama (the man who made his political career and recently raised a million dollars for him) the what-for. The only decision Alexi would ever buck (and you certainly can't show me any so far) is one that isn't liberal enough for Alexi, who plans to found a Senate progressive caucus.
The Kirk campaign, as usual, is on top of this farcical claim by Alexi:
Kirk Campaign Challenges Giannoulias to Identify Five Times He Would Have Voted Against Reid
Congressional Quarterly Rated Social Moderate, Fiscal Conservative Kirk Most Independent Member of the House on Presidential Support in 2009;
Giannoulias backed higher taxes and increased spending in this Congress
Northbrook, Ill. – The Kirk for Senate campaign today challenged Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias to identify five items where he would have voted against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after claiming he would not support ideas he disagreed with “whether it's Harry Reid's, whether it's Dick Durbin's.”
While Congressman Mark Kirk has a proven thoughtful, independent voting record, Alexi Giannoulias has supported every Reid-Pelosi tax and spend initiative of this Congress. Recently, Giannoulias pledged to establish a Progressive Caucus in the Senate to offset the influence of fiscally conservative Democrats.
“From the stimulus to government health care, Alexi Giannoulias remains a cheerleader for increased spending and higher taxes,” Kirk spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said. “Alexi Giannoulias will vote lock and step with Harry Reid to raise taxes, increase government spending and stifle economic growth. Illinois families cannot afford the Giannoulias job-killing rubber stamp.”
For 2009, the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly rated Mark Kirk’s voting record on presidential support at the exact center of the House. Kirk agreed with President Obama on a number of issues this Congress, including support for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Vote 16: H R 2), mortgage reform and anti-predatory lending legislation (Vote 242: H R 1728), federal regulation of tobacco (Vote 335: H R 1256), hate crimes legislation (Vote 223: H R 1913) and the Small Business Jobs Tax Relief Act of 2010 (Vote 363: H R 5486).
Unlike Giannoulias, Kirk has an established record of working across party lines to build bipartisan consensus. Key partnerships include Congressman Bill Lipinski (D-IL) in the defense of Lake Michigan; Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) on U.S.-China relations; Congressman Chris Carney (D-PA) on national security, veterans and military issues; Congressmen Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Steve Israel (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Ron Klein (D-FL) on Iran; Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ) on issues affecting the U.S.-Israel relationship; and Congresswoman Diana DeGette on stem cell research.