Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Alexi Giannoulias Springs for Lunch

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Alexi Giannoulias Springs for Lunch
Jack Higgins
Alexi Giannoulias Springs for Lunch

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Boy, Alexi Giannoulias is a cheap date.

In an effort to find out what the little people are thinking, and what sort of salad dressing they like, Alexi decided to invite four ordinary Illinoisans to lunch. Alexi, President Obama's former hoops pal, is calling them his “Final Four,” in honor of the NCAA tournament.

But there was a catch. In order to qualify for Alexi’s Final Four, you had to give him money first.

“Contribute by midnight tonight and your name will automatically be entered for a chance to win a seat at this special event,” read an e-mail that went out from the Giannoulias campaign on Wednesday, using the oldest infomercial high-pressure tactic known to man.

Barack Obama also raffled off lunch dates during his presidential campaign, but in his defense, he actually was cheap. He used to drive a Dodge Neon and wear his overcoats until the lining fell out.

Giannoulias doesn’t have that excuse. Between 2005 and 2008, he earned $5.5 million in dividends from his family’s Broadway Bank. That’s enough money to buy lunch for every registered voter in Chicago.

And that’s exactly what he should do if he wants to win the votes of people who eat lunch. Starting today, Giannoulias should launch his “I’m Buyin’” tour of Illinois. Every afternoon, about 12:30 p.m., he should walk into an Italian beef stand in Chicago, or a diner in Carbondale, or Bank Lane Bistro in Lake Forest, shout “I’m Alexi Giannoulias, I’m running for the U.S. Senate, and I’m buying!” Then he should use some of those millions to pick up the tab for everyone in the joint.

It would stimulate the state’s economy, because more people would go out to lunch, in hopes of landing in that day’s lucky restaurant. And, it would win Giannoulias a lot more votes. His “Final Four” are all going to vote for him anyway.

Chicagoans used to be famous for selling their votes for a free turkey on Election Day. Why wouldn’t they do it for a free turkey sandwich, with gorgonzola?

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