06/15/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Take One for the Team, Alexi

Dear Alexi,
You've played plenty of hoops over the years, so you of all people should know when it's time to pull yourself out of the ball game.  It's no secret to anyone in Illinois that you've been playing hurt for the last several months. And while it's admirable to play hurt if your team really needs you, it's a different story when your mere presence on the court hampers your team's ability to win.

So let's cut to the chase. This isn't the 1997 NBA Finals.  You're not Michael Jordan.  And the imminent demise of Broadway Bank is no simple case of the flu.
The time for you to grab some pine is now. 
I'd be inclined to cut you some slack if the game in question was just a one-on-one matchup between you and Mark Kirk.  After all, you've got a big height advantage, and Kirk -- try as he might - still can't go to his left.

But this isn't a game of one-on-one.  You're part of a team.  And you're about to cost your team -- the Democratic Party -- the U.S. Senate seat that was once held by your old basketball buddy, President Barack Obama.  (To be sure, your continued presence in the race is also not likely to help Governor Quinn's election bid.)
Yes, you have every right to stay in the race. You did manage to eke out a victory in a low-turnout Democratic primary against two relatively unknown opponents back in February. You survived those challenges, of course, largely by ducking the tough questions about your work as Broadway's senior loan officer. Since February, however, the Broadway mess has turned toxic, and it doesn't show signs of getting any better before Election Day. 
I know your campaign is starting to feel the heat. Kirk raised almost twice as much money as you did during the first quarter of 2010. Do you really expect to make up that shortfall once news breaks that federal regulators are staffing Broadway's teller windows?

You're also taking a daily drubbing in the press. Your name has been linked to "Jaws" in so many news stories that even Peter Benchley's estate is starting to pay attention. From the look of things right now, it doesn't appear you could buy favorable coverage if you owned your own newspaper.

Still don't believe your campaign is in trouble? Ask yourself this question.  If you gave Kirk the choice right now to run against you or Lisa Madigan in November, which of you would he choose?  Truth be told, I think Kirk would rather see your name on the ballot than have to worry about a last-minute challenge from Madigan, Dan Hynes, David Hoffman, or even Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers.

Yes, Kirk has his critics, but they tend to question his politics, not his basic competence. He's attacked by his party's base for not being a "real" Republican, yet plenty of folks in the middle are concerned he might not be "moderate" enough for their liking.

Your critics, on the other hand, don't typically question your politics. Most of us believe that you would happily cast whatever vote Dick Durbin tells you to cast. It's your competence that concerns us.

Remember -- you landed your state treasurer job by trumpeting your banking experience as Broadway's senior loan officer. In other words, you sold us a bill of goods. And now you're asking us to send you to Washington D.C. to help reform our nation's financial system? Talk about "The Audacity of Hope."

Back in February, you were among those leading the cry for Scott Lee Cohen to step down as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.  Cohen ultimately threw in the towel. He did it, he said, "[f]or the good of the people of the State of Illinois and for the Democratic Party."
Take a page out of Cohen's playbook, Alexi, and give your team a chance.


Matt Farmer