If the debates are any indication, the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator from Illinois is a two horse race: Alexi Giannoulias and David Hoffman.
Hoffman and Giannoulias traded barbs during a debate at the Union League Club early Wednesday morning.
Four Democrats -- including Cheryle Jackson and Jacob Meister -- were invited to spar, but Hoffman and Giannoulias stole the show.
Giannoulias, who leads the race according to recent polling, took the unusual step of attacking one of his primary opponents over perceived campaign slights. Hoffman last month released a polling memo that said Giannoulias is unelectable because of his family's banking ties.
“He (Hoffman) goes after my family" said Giannoulias “But he has significant amounts of his own wealth from big Wall Street banks."
Hoffman, a former Federal prosecutor and Chicago Inspector General, used the unorthodox shot to rail against Giannoulias's job history.
“He has held only two jobs,” Hoffman said of State Treasurer Giannoulias. “The one just before this one was as vice president of his family’s bank, which is now the worst-performing bank in the country.”
“When you’re 33 years old and you’ve only held two jobs, it’s worth talking about…It’s nothing to do with his family — it’s about his job performance at the bank,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman then linked Giannoulias’ job performance to the suffering Bright Start College savings program.
“How can we trust him when he ran Bright Start and lost 185 million dollars?” he said. “It’s no longer one of the top programs. On his watch, one of his job performance issues was not managing the Bright Start program.”
Giannoulias, who initially refused to talk to the press after the debate until he came back an hour later, defended his own resume by tweaking Hoffman’s
"I'm not attacking, David, but you've not created one job, you've not helped entrepreneurs, and you’re more interested in your resume."
Jackson and Meister, the other two Democrats in the field, stood by and watched the fireworks.