Senator Dean Heller

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Feb. 4, 2014, 10:41 a.m.

IL Treas. Alexi Gi­an­nouli­as (D) was in DC for “meet­ings” 10/14. Turns out, He was at the WH for a vis­it with Obama ad­viser Dav­id Axel­rod (Stein, “Huff­ing­ton Post,” 10/14).

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Gi­an­nouli­as stopped by the Wa­ter­gate to meet with The Hot­line and he left the im­pres­sion he’s already look­ing past the three-way SEN primary he faces in Feb. ‘10 and to­ward a likely match-up against Rep. Mark Kirk (R-10).

Gi­an­nouli­as: “To have all the in­sti­tu­tion­al sup­port, to have bet­ter poll num­bers, bet­ter name re­cog­ni­tion and a sig­ni­fic­ant money ad­vant­age in a primary that’s right around the corner, we are just in a great, great place.”

Gi­an­nouli­as’ main rivals for the Dem nod, ex-Chica­go IG Dav­id Hoff­man and ex-Chica­go Urb­an League pres. Cheryle Robin­son Jack­son, have only re­cently entered the race and they’re be­hind in terms of build­ing their or­gan­iz­a­tions and at­tract­ing money. Gi­an­nouli­as “said they’re too far be­hind to catch him.”

He ad­ded: “If you take away the hol­i­days, when are you go­ing to raise money? We’ve been do­ing this since March and we’ve raised $3 mil­lion and it has not been easy. Two months to try to raise money when no one knows who you are, no polling to show them, I just think it’s chal­len­ging.”

While Jack­son has the demo­graph­ic dis­tinc­tion be­ing the only wo­man and only Afric­an-Amer­ic­an in the race, Gi­an­nouli­as said “she has to prove that she’s vi­able” in or­der to cap­it­al­ize. While Jack­son has raised $354K in the last month, and re­ceived the back­ing of EMILY’s List, prov­ing she’s a vi­able can­did­ate will be dif­fi­cult. Moreover, she hasn’t been tested in elect­or­al polit­ics, and neither has Hoff­man, Gi­an­nouli­as said. “Not only have they not run for statewide of­fice be­fore, but they haven’t run for of­fice in their lives.”

Look­ing ahead to the gen­er­al, Gi­an­nouli­as made it clear he wants to paint Kirk as “too ex­treme” for IL. The Dem said: “He’s not mod­er­ate. What we need to do is let people in Illinois know how he’s voted.” Asked if ty­ing Kirk to George W. Bush will still be a work­able strategy next year, Gi­an­nouli­as said: “yes.”

Gi­an­nouli­as: “If he talks about debt be­ing too much, well, he voted for all of George Bush’s budgets where the debt doubled. He’s got a lot of ex­plain­ing to do.”

Gi­an­nouli­as cited Kirk’s House vote on cap-and-trade le­gis­la­tion and back-and-forth about en­ter­ing the race as signs of weak­ness. Gi­an­nouli­as: “Already in a few months, I’ve seen some huge mis­takes. We’re go­ing to high­light that. We’re go­ing to high­light the fact that he’s try­ing to go to the right and fig­ure out what his base is. He’s deal­ing with in­con­sist­en­cies.”

But it’s early days yet to be build­ing “con­trasts.”

Gi­an­nouli­as said of Kirk, “To be hon­est with you, most folks don’t even know who he is down­state, so ty­ing him to Bush hasn’t even come up yet.”

Tar­get­ing one of the Dem’s per­ceived vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies, Kirk said earli­er this week that the state’s Bright Start 529 col­lege sav­ings pro­gram was “fail­ing miser­ably” be­cause the pro­gram’s man­ager, Op­pen­heimer Funds, lost $85M in­vest­ing in mort­gage-backed se­cur­it­ies. Kirk also con­ten­ded Bright Start is un­der­stat­ing its true losses, but he avoided say­ing Gi­an­nouli­as was dir­ectly re­spons­ible.

Gi­an­nouli­as agreed that one of the pro­gram’s funds suffered “ex­cess­ive losses,” but he said his dept. is pur­su­ing leg­al ac­tion against Op­pen­heimer. Gi­an­nouli­as: “We went after them, and we’re really close to get­ting a really good set­tle­ment. Yeah, I think people will try and make it an is­sue, but look, if you look at what the mar­ket­place has done with­in the last year, people have taken enorm­ous, enorm­ous losses. It’s still one of the best pro­grams in the coun­try and I’m ex­tremely proud of it.”

Still, Gi­an­nouli­as “ac­know­ledged” that Dems in IL will face a dif­fi­cult en­vir­on­ment in ‘10. Gi­an­nouli­as: “For a very blue state, for what should be an easy statewide race, it’s go­ing to be very tight. Do I think I’m go­ing to win? Yes” (Hot­line re­port­ing, 10/14).

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