Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer and party favorite, won the Democratic nomination for Illinois's U.S. Senate seat in Tuesday's election, He will face Mark Kirk in November's general election.
The seat he'll be running for was held by Barack Obama, offered for sale by Rod Blagojevich, and is now occupied by Roland Burris, whose approval numbers are at historic lows.
As of 10 p.m., Giannoulias had 39 percent of reported votes. Though he was the party favorite, newcomer David Hoffman gave him a run for his money, earning an estimated 34 percent of votes. He slammed Giannoulias and accused him of being part of the state's political machine throughout the race, but Hoffman vowed to support Giannoulias on Tuesday night.
"I know there is disappointment this room tonight, but let us not dwell on the disappointment of defeat, but instead let's reflect on how far we've come and what we've been fighting for," Hoffman said in his concession speech Tuesday. "Let us remember just how far we have come in a very short period of time."
Giannoulias hopes to hang on to the seat for the Democrats in the fall, after surviving a grueling and at times ugly primary battle.
Hoffman mounted the most serious challenge, with a groundswell of support late in the race. The former Inspector General campaigned as a reformer, and criticized Giannoulias for his ties to his family's Broadway Bank. Giannoulias worked at the bank for several years as senior loan officer and vice president, during which time it loaned money to now-convicted felon and Blago crony Tony Rezko. It also expanded into risky real-estate loans of the kind that brought down the housing market and left Broadway Bank over $70 million in the hole. The bank issued payouts of $2.5 million to Alexi during that time.
The Democratic Party can only hope that some combination of those factors will prevail in November as well. Mark Kirk, however, is a relatively moderate Republican and well liked fifth-term congressman from the Chicago suburbs--just the type of candidate who might be able to win a traditionally blue seat.
In a battle cry to GOP Senate primary winner Mark Kirk, Giannoulias said Tuesday night: "Your days as a Washington insider are over."