Giannoulias: I Missed the Call from the White House

Will this become a trend?

By Anthony Ponce and Andrew Greiner
|  Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010  |  Updated 1:39 PM CDT
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Seeing Red: Republicans Who Could Reshape Illinois Politics

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Alexi Giannoulias came out of the primary bruised. He's got a bank problem on his hands. How will the Broadway snafu affect the wanna-be senator in a year when bank angst runs high?

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Speculation over how much support the White House is prepared to give to the Illinois Democratic Senate Nominee Alexi Giannoulias has already begun. Surprisingly, Giannoulias is the one who started it.

"President Obama called and apparently I missed it," Giannoulias said.  "But the White House called and congratulated us last night and we're gonna do everything we can to keep the seat."

The senate candidate said he's hoping to hear from the president at some point today

But, Giannoulias doesn't want kudos alone. Giannoulias is as curious as anyone to learn about how much campaign support will be coming from the White House over the next nine months, he said. 

The Obama administration declined to throw their full suppport behind Giannoulias during the primary season, and opted instead to meet with all three of the leading primary candidates, Giannoulias, David Hoffman and Cheryle Jackson for information sessions. 

Obama would have preferred that Attorney General Lisa Madigan ran, but she declined.

Giannoulias poses a significant problem for the Obama White House. On one hand, they would be loathe to lose the seat he once held to a Republican contender. And they certainly don't want a replay of Massachusetts in the president's home state. 

On the other, Giannoulias has connections with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko, who was somewhat of a campaign issue for the president, though not on the level of Reverend Wright.

But there is no doubt that Obama wants to steer clear of the association, and throwing too much support Giannoulias' way could paint him as a politician that greases the wheels for buddies of his felonious albatross.

Finally, Giannoulias has a bank problem. His family's Broadway Bank is on the hook to the federal government to make up $50 million.  Obama is using increasingly tough language to chastise irresponsible lenders and fat cat bankers.

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