Alexi Giannoulias - NBC Chicago
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Alexi Giannoulias

Democrat, Running for Senator



    CASH ON HAND$1,025,056

    The Man: The youngest candidate ever to be elected State Treasurer and a former VP at his family's now-defunct community bank, Alexi Giannoulias has found himself in a tough battle with Rep. Mark Kirk for President Obama's former Senate seat.

    Giannoulias is a charismatic Chicagoan of Greek descent  who used to play basketball with Barack Obama when Obama was a state and U.S. Senator.  A loyal foot soldier to (and some would say emulator of) Obama, Giannoulias has this election season been rewarded with presidential fund raisers -- despite months of conjecture that the White House would shun the troubled, erstwhile banker. The DSCC has also continued to pump more money into his ad campaigns on a weekly basis.

    While he enjoys the benefits of having a personal relationship with the president, Giannoulias is also fighting allegations that his family's bank knowlingly did business with criminals like Tony Rezko and Michael "Jaws" Giorango.

    The Knock: Questions about his handling of the Bright Start college savings program have dogged Giannoulias, as have rumors about his role as chief loan officer of his family's Broadway Bank, where he may have approved a number of questionable loans. Also overshadowing his campaign: the wealthy ex-banker's business losses allowed him to forego paying taxes last year, a fact that may hurt him among struggling voters who have no such benefit.

    Giannoulias is now fighting a rear-guard action, attempting to move his policy conversation forward. He favors reforming TARP and No Child Left Behind, providing a strong public option for uninsured Americans, and ethics reform.

    The Strategy: Giannoulias has been unable to pull ahead in the polls after Kirk's "misremembering" episode. He continues to rely on the White House's campaign assistance while distancing himself from the nation's financial messes.

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