CHICAGO--Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, 32, opens his exploratory bid for Senator today hoping his close association with President Obama, generational appeal, record and early start locks him in as a front-runner in what today is a very undefined field.
Giannoulias, I am told, is running no matter the election scenario or the other contenders. Last week, William Daley, the former Commerce Secretary and mayoral brother, floated his name in order to head off Giannoulias securing early endorsements. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) is also mulling a run, with her chances of getting in more likely in a special election.
Though a special election is being called for by some to force embattled Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) from office, lawmakers may have second thoughts because of the cost. The regular primary and general election is in 2010 and nominating petitions are due later this year for the February primary.
Giannoulias is figuring the primary could cost $5 million and a general election at least $15 million. After a series of interviews to discuss his bid today--there is no splashy kick off--Giannoulias heads to Florida to prospect for labor support at the annual AFL-CIO Winter meeting in Miami. His initial campaign focus will be on fund-raising.
Jordan Kaplan, who directed the Obama fund-raising effort in Illinois, is assisting Giannoulias on the money front. "The goal is to get out early and start raising money," I am told. Giannoulias' has the wealth to self-fund a portion of his campaign. Eric Adelstein is Giannoulias' media consultant and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner his pollsters.
Burris, tapped by ousted Gov. Blagojevich faces inquiries from the Sangamon Cty. state's attorney and the Senate Ethics Committee over conflicting statements he made about the events leading up to his appointment. Close associates to Burris have told me Burris has come to realize he will have a very difficult time hanging on to the seat in an election after a slew of Democratic leaders--and both Chicago papers--have called for him to resign.