Giannoulias and Kirk Hold Big Primary Leads

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In a Senate race with national implications, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk have opened up big leads ahead of the Feb. 2 primary elections, according to a recent Tribune/WGN-TV poll.

    The two candidates -- Giannoulias, a first-term state treasurer; Kirk, a five-term North Shore congressman -- have been battling each other over a rare open-seat contest that could impact the Democrat's Senate super-majority.

    Not to mention whichever candidate wins will lay claim to the seat's infamous pedigree: Obama held it, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell it, and Roland Burris currently occupies it, if fitfully.

    The poll shows Giannoulias with the support of 31 percent of Democratic primary voters.

    Former Chicago Urban League president Cheryle Jackson has 17 percent, while former Chicago inspector general David Hoffman has 9 percent.

    Thirty-five percent of Democratic primary voters are currently undecided.

    Kirk, meanwhile, has few if any notable challengers, but 46 percent of Republican respondents say they're undecided. Kirk has recently swung rightward in his rhetoric, vowing to reverse an earlier vote in favor of cap-and-trade carbon emission regulation and vehemently opposing the Guantanamo plan for Illinois.