The loss of the seat to Republicans in this solidly Democratic-leaning state would be heralded by the GOP as a major coup.
Already, each side in the race is taking shots at the other.
Mr. Giannoulias, in his victory speech, sought to portray Representative Kirk as out of touch with the electorate. He cited an old Kirk quote about unemployment not being a big issue in his district, adding, “It’s obvious that you’ve spent too many years in Washington, voting with the special interests to ship our jobs overseas…. But come November, Congressman, your days as a Washington insider are over.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, meanwhile, has already released a Web ad trying to connect Giannoulias to former Governor Blagojevich (awaiting trial for fraud), Tony Rezko, and the Mob. “Alexi Giannoulias: He’d make Tony Soprano proud,” the ad concludes.
Problems at Giannoulias's family bank, which last week agreed to tougher government oversight and was described as “undercapitalized” by regulators, are also likely to be a liability for Giannoulias. Giannoulias worked as a loan officer there before becoming state treasurer.