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).
What We're Following See More »
"House GOP leaders on Tuesday night pitched a new strategy to avert a looming government shutdown that includes children's health funding and the delay of ObamaCare taxes. Lawmakers need to pass a short-term stopgap bill by midnight Friday, when money for the federal government runs out. The latest GOP plan would keep the government’s lights on through Feb. 16, and be coupled with a six-year extension of funding for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The continuing resolution or CR would also delay ObamaCare's medical device and Cadillac taxes for two years, and the health insurance tax for one year starting in 2019."
"A key Senate negotiator and White House official on Tuesday expressed little hope for an immigration deal this week but nonetheless predicted that Congress can avoid a government shutdown." Marc Short, the White House Capitol Hill liaison, said he's optimistic about a deal on DACA overall, but not this week. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn also said he doubts an agreement can be made before week's end.
"Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen confirmed that President Trump used 'tough language' in an Oval Office meeting last week over immigration policy, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as 'shithole countries,' as has been reported." When pressed she, also said she "didn't know" whether Norway was a predominately white country.
"Chances of a government shutdown grew Monday as Republicans concluded that they would be unable to reach a long-term spending accord by the Friday deadline. GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants. Aides to key negotiators from both parties planned to meet Tuesday in an effort to rekindle budget talks, setting up a Wednesday meeting of the leaders themselves. If they cannot agree, the government would shut down at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013."
“'As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,' Feeley said, according to an excerpt of his resignation letter read to Reuters."