WASHINGTON-- President Obama hits Chicago on Aug. 5 to headline a fund-raiser for Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and will be the draw at another event for other Democrats, Giannoulias spokesman Kathleen Strand told me on Sunday. Vice President Biden, in Chicago to fund-raise for Giannoulias in June, will be doing more to help him, likely in the early fall.
Obama's visit back home to stump and fund-raise for his old Senate seat--should send a strong signal that the White House is strongly behind the Giannoulias bid. Obama was last back in Chicago on Memorial Day, when he spent the weekend at his Kenwood home with his family.
Obama's fund-raising help is critically needed. The White House boost comes as second quarter June 30 fund-raising showed Giannoulias, the state treasurer, lagging far behind GOP nominee Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.): Giannoulias raised about $900,000 in the second quarter compared to Kirk's $2.3 million. Kirk has about $3.9 million cash on had compared to about $1 million for Giannoulias.
Giannoulias' fund-raising was hobbled most of the last quarter because of a cloud over him because of the April failure of his family owned Broadway Bank. Giannoulias, the state treasurer, is also declining to accept donations from federal lobbyists and corporate political action committees. Kirk has been attacking Giannoulias for his tenure at the bank--calling him a "mob banker" and in the past weeks also criticized Giannoulias because he owed no 2009 income taxes because of the bank failure. People started writing Giannoulias checks again when his campaign showed it was surviving the Kirk hits over the bank failure and the Obama White House sent signals of support with a string of figures fund-raising for Giannoulias, including Vice President Biden, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina. Senior White House advisor David Axelrod will be in Chicago on July 25 for a Giannoulias fund-raiser. While all these events have been small, they went a message to the activist Democratic donor community that Giannoulias remained viable despite the bank controversy. At the end of May, Kirk's campaign had to deal with Kirk's series of embellishments about his military career. Most polls show the contest in a deadlock at this point.
Giannoulias campaign manager Mike Rendina said, "We're excited to welcome President Obama back to Illinois to campaign with Alexi in early August. The President's visit will reinforce the importance of the clear choice Illinois voters face between Alexi, who supports helping the President move America forward and career Congressman Mark Kirk, who wants to go back to the same failed Bush policies that got us into this mess."
Ryan Tronovitch, Republican National Committee spokesman said, "President Obama's hypocrisy is stunning - one minute you hear him attacking the 'fat cat bankers' and the next he is raising money for a mob banker in Illinois. As someone who promotes transparency and openness on a daily basis, President Obama should be condemning Mr. Giannoulias for his risky actions and associations, not raising money to support his campaign for U.S. Senate."
"Illinois and the country face serious challenges. In November, voters will
choose between Alexi Giannoulias - a failed banker who wants to raise taxes and
Mark Kirk - a thoughtful independent with a plan to create jobs and turn our
economy around," Kirk spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.
Amber Marchand, National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Press Secretary said, "It's ironic that just days after Congress passed a bill that claims to crack down on Wall Street, President Obama is going to raise campaign funds for a candidate whose risky financial decisions at Broadway Bank cost the FDIC $394.3 million. Alexi Giannoulias is a failed mob banker whose thin resume epitomizes the antithesis of everything that President Obama claims to represent, which is why the voters in Illinois will elect a commonsense leader in Mark Kirk to the U.S. Senate this November."