Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why Giannoulias Needs Broadway Bank to Fail. Now.

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Why Giannoulias Needs Broadway Bank to Fail. Now.
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Imagine you’re about to lose your house to foreclosure. You know you can’t pay the mortgage, and you know the date the sheriff’s department is coming to change the locks, but you try to put it out of your mind. You go on living day to day inside your house, trying not to think about the day you’ll finally be living outside your house.

Well, Eviction Day is finally coming for Alexi Giannoulias. His family’s Broadway Bank was ordered by federal regulators to come up with $85 million to keep the institution afloat. The deadline: April 24. If the Giannouliases can’t come up with the money, the FDIC may seize Broadway’s four branches and put the bank up for sale.

Broadway Bank may die, but it won’t be forgotten -- at least not until November. Giannoulias’s opponent, Mark Kirk, has already made it the most famous little bank in Illinois. Its failure will only raise its profile. Expect grainy, black-and-white footage of federally-managed Broadway locations to appear on ads paid for by some of the $2.2 million Kirk has already raised this year, partly by harping on Giannoulias’s alleged mismanagement of the bank.

Actually, the bank may be able to beg for more time if it can convince the FDIC that it’s found a source of funding. While that may be good for Giannoulias’ business, it’s not necessarily the best thing for his political career.

Giannoulias will be better off if the bank fails six-and-a-half months before the election, Alan Gitelson, a Loyola University political science professor, told WBEZ today.

“Under the circumstances, I think he’s better off having the issue resolve itself one way or another now, than he is having this drag out for months and months,” Gitelson said.

With Broadway Bank dead and gone, Giannoulias may have room to start talking about health care and the economy, the two issues he really wants this election to be about.

Don’t expect Kirk to stop talking about it, though. No one has been reaping more dividends from Broadway Bank than Mark Kirk. He’ll be collecting even more if the bank goes out of business.

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