Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee in the race for President Obama’s former Senate seat, has a new TV ad addressing a story that has a lot of potential to damage his campaign: The failure of his family’s bank, which occurred this past Friday after having been expected for some time.
In the ad, Giannoulias makes clear that he left the bank four years ago, before the current problems (he was elected state treasurer in 2006). And he likens his the bank’s woes to those of other family businesses across the country.“My father started this business 30 years ago. It’s helped thousands of people achieve the American Dream. People who couldn’t go to the big banks,” Giannoulias says. “I was very proud to be a part of it, and when I left, over four years ago, it was in good shape. But no one could have foreseen these problems. Family businesses are dealing with challenges they never would have foreseen. We’ve seen family businesses go under — on every block, on every corner.”
The bank failed this past Friday, after having been heavily invested in real estate and losing $75 million last year. The bank had until today to raise $85 million, and having failed to do so the FDIC announced its closure on Friday. Republican nominee Rep. Mark Kirk’s campaign was quick to pounce in a statement: “While years of risky lending schemes, hot money investments and loans to organized crime led to today’s failure, it’s a sad day for Broadway Bank employees who may lose their jobs due to Mr. Giannoulias’ reckless business practices.”
The TPM Poll Average gives Kirk an edge over Giannoulias of 39.2%-36.6%. Giannoulias had previously been ahead, but began declaring in mid-February — at the time when the story of the bank’s imminent failure first began to spread — while Kirk’s support has remained the same. In an election year when a lot of voters don’t like bankers, a failed bank could have the potential to seriously damage Giannoulias’s chances.