Shia Kapos of Politico’s Illinois Playbook column reported early this morning that Alexi Giannoulias may be throwing his hat in the ring for the powerful position of Secretary of State in Illinois.
The position opens in 2022 with the pending retirement of Jesse White, who has held the office since 1998.
In an exclusive statement to Politico, Giannoulias applauded White’s service to the state and also connected his potential run to the significance of the position.
“Secretary White is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. His shoes will be near impossible to fill, but if I run, I would work very hard to try and continue his legacy of caring and principled leadership,” Giannoulias, a Democrat, said in a statement to Politico’s Illinois Playbook.
“If this  election has shown us anything, it’s that democracy is under siege and Secretaries of State across the country are on the front lines, ensuring that everyone can participate freely and fairly in elections.”
No stranger to politics, Giannoulias was the state’s Treasurer from 2007 to 2011 and came very close to becoming a U.S. Senator after a hard-fought campaign against Mark Kirk more than a decade ago.
After his loss to Kirk, Giannoulias left politics and joined the private sector, taking a position at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., following in the footsteps of his father, who as an immigrant from Greece, founded Broadway Bank, a community bank in Chicago that closed in 2010 during the financial crisis.
Although out of public office, Giannoulias never really left public life, serving on the boards of numerous charities in the Chicago area and serving as an advisor to the Hellenic American Leadership Council, a Chicago-based grassroots organization that supports various issues of importance to Greek Americans.
In her column, Kapos lists numerous early endorsements for Giannoulias, a Democrat, who would need to attract not only the black vote in and around Chicago, but enough suburban and downstate voters who often vote Republican in statewide offices.
Giannoulias will most likely have some powerful statewide and national democrats in his camp, including President Barack Obama, whom he famously beat in an election-day basketball game in 2012.
Shia Kapos’ exclusive story in the influential column was a strong signal to political insiders in the state by citing three particular individuals in her piece.
Rep. Robin Kelly, who besides being Giannoulias’ ex-Chief of Staff, is one of the most influential African American Congresswomen in the nation and perhaps the top political player in Chicago’s southern suburbs.
Tom Balanoff is the head of Illinois’ biggest union, the Service Employees International Union Illinois Council, which will be central to a Giannoulias win. And finally, John Rogers, who isn’t only a giant of the finance industry, but is one of the major donors who helped launch the political career of Barack Obama.
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