Giannoulias Not Deterred from Senate Race

White House courted AG Madigan, has reservations about former State Treasurer's ties to Blagojevich

By BJ Lutz and Mary Ann Ahern
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 1:45 PM CDT
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Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias is aware he isn't the White House's first choice to replace Sen. Roland Burris, but says he's not going to be deterred from the race.

Earlier this year, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan ultimately decided to run for re-election, despite being courted by the White House to consider a run for President Obama's former Senate seat.

"She would have walked into the seat," White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod said in an article posted in The New York Times over the weekend.

Giannoulias said he's not surprised the White House courted her.

"It's well documented some folks in D.C." wanted to go with "her great name recognition," Giannoulias said Tuesday following a press event announcing a new plan to reduce the threat of "too big to fail" banking institutions.

In the same New York Times article, Axelrod -- whose former political consulting firm is advising Giannoulias' challenger, David Hoffman -- expressed concern that the upcoming trial for ousted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich could hurt Giannoulias' run.

"The Blago saga will hang heavy over our politics, and that’s what (Republican challenger Mark) Kirk’s banking on," Axelrod said.

Axelrod said that although Tony Rezko, a Blagojevich fundraiser now in jail, never contributed to Giannoulias, Rezko did receive loans from the Giannoulias family business, Broadway Bank.

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