Well, the good news for Alexi Giannoulias is that he was never Senate candidate A, B, C, D or even Z.
Rod Blagojevich never thought much of Giannoulias’s political potential. On tapes played at his corruption trial, Blago was heard telling his chief of staff, John Harris, that Giannoulias was a lightweight who couldn’t win a big campaign.
Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. Blagojevich is now subpoenaing Giannoulias to testify in the trial that’s been embarrassing every big-name Democrat in Illinois.
On Sunday, Giannoulias told the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet that he talked to Harris about appointing Obama crony Valerie Jarrett to the Senate. He also set up a meeting between Jarrett and SEIU chief Tom Balanoff. The subject? The Senate seat.
“Despite what the Republicans are trying to say,” Giannoulias told Sweet, “I am really not a part of this circus. I think you know I have always thought very highly of Valerie.”
Balanoff “reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie; he did not know how to get ahold of her. I put the two together in the meeting,” which took place in the office of another Obama crony, investment banker John Rogers.
ABC 7’s Charles Thomas thinks the revelation is bad news for Giannoulias’s campaign.
“Admitting to having telephoned Rod Blagojevich’s chief of staff about anything during the fateful fall of 2008 is bad business for a candidate in a statewide election just over four months from now,” Thomas wrote. “And talk about close calls: If Harris had forwarded the live call to his boss, or the wiretapped Blago had returned Giannoulias' call, chances are there would be another name leading the statewide democratic ticket in 2010."
But over at Crain’s Chicago Business, ace political reporter Greg Hinz thinks the Blagojevich tapes might actually help Giannoulias, because they reveal that the two officeholders didn’t get along. Hinz writes that the petty Blagojevich turned down Giannoulias’s request for a state police guard after the treasurer dissed his gross receipts tax plan, and that Giannoulias once referred to Blagojevich as the “un-Obama.”
Harris and Blagojevich discussed whether Giannoulias should be an emissary to Obama to pony up for a Jarrett appointment.
"No, I don't trust Alexi," Blago said. "Under no circumstances."
“Almost a TV ad, huh?” Hinz cracks.
There will be a TV ad. But it won’t be Giannoulias’s. Here’s a statement from Kirk mouthpiece Kirsten Kukowski: “Now we’ve learned Giannoulias’ name has come up on federal wiretaps talking about the Illinois Senate seat, and he has been subpoenaed. ...This revelation raises additional questions about Alexi Giannoulias that he needs to answer.”
We can’t wait to hear what he has to say. If Giannoulias does take to the stand, he’ll probably use it as a platform to insist he didn’t trust Blagojevich, either.