Despite the fact that he’s raised far less money than Mark Kirk, and is refusing donations from corporate PACs and federal lobbyists, Alexi Giannoulias will have enough money to get his message out in the U.S. Senate race, David Plouffe predicted today in a conference call with Illinois reporters.
Plouffe, who managed President Obama’s 2008 campaign, pointed out that Obama didn’t take corporate money, either. It is a risk, he acknowledged.
“That’s not an easy to make, because obviously you are going to sacrifice some income,” Plouffe said. “We made that decision during the presidential campaign. But if you’re serious about trying to show people that you’re going to make decisions and govern in a way that’s not influenced by the traditional money culture in Washington, you’ve got to take a strong stand. I think that’s something that will resonate with voters. I don’t think most voters in Illinois realize Alexi’s doing that. By the end of the campaign they will.”
But will Giannoulias be able to raise enough money to tell voters he’s not taking corporate money? Plouffe thinks so. Giannoulias does have one advantage over Kirk -- the support of Obama, who is expected to raise $1.5 million for the Democratic National Committee at a birthday dinner next week, and has the ability to inspire individuals to donate to Giannoulias.
“I think Alexi’s going to have the ability, even though he’s clearly going to be outspent, to make that case,” Plouffe said. “I’ve learned through the years, what’s important is not so much the comparison, it’s do you have what you need to do what you need to do in a campaign? That’s the fundamental threshold, and I think they’re going to be on a course to do that, and I think trips like the president’s next week will help.
Kirk’s obviously spent a lot more than Alexi, and yet, the race is tied. The question, can you get to the point where you’re confident, no matter what Kirk spent, you’ve got enough to be heard.”
Very few candidates refuse PAC money, Plouffe said, so “this is not a small, symbolic thing Alexi’s doing. This is going to resonate with people, when you say, ‘I’m not going to listen to the big oil companies, the big bankers, the big insurers, because they didn’t fund my campaign. Mark Kirk, obviously, can’t make that same statement.”
In other news from the conference call, Giannoulias campaign manager Michael Rendina said that his candidate believes Giannoulias believes Sen. Roland Burris should be allowed to serve until the year, but will seek the Democratic nomination in the special Senate election to complete Burris’s term.