Having cast my ballot in yesterday's Democratic primary, I settled in to watch election returns on local television Tuesday night. I started to doze off around 10:00 p.m. while Alexi Giannoulias was giving his acceptance speech. I'll have to double-check the transcript, but this is what I thought I heard:
"Tonight, my friends, nearly 12% of the registered Democrats in the great State of Illinois have spoken with a strong and united voice. And so I stand before you this evening as the Democratic nominee to fill the U.S. Senate seat once held by my old basketball buddy, President Barack Obama.
"What a road we've traveled, folks. Three months ago, few would have ever predicted that I'd be able to parlay my short speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, my strong name recognition, my huge campaign war chest, and my friendship with Barack and other high-profile Democrats into this Senate nomination. But here we are this evening.
"The road was long and hard, my friends. As you know, I faced the daunting task of having to defeat two challengers that no one had ever heard of before this race began. But somehow we overcame adversity, and tonight the results are in.
"Despite their Herculean efforts, my two previously unknown opponents were only able to capture 54% of the vote from the roughly 30% of registered Democrats who actually made it to the polls. I, on the other hand, captured 39% of that slim turnout, which means that nearly 12% of registered Democrats in this state cared enough about me and my message to make me the party's nominee.
"That message, of course, centers on helping working men and women - a group of folks I've read quite a bit about. Know this, my friends -- I understand your struggles. In fact, I know them firsthand, having watched a number of PBS Frontline episodes about unsavory lending practices at our nation's banks. Rest assured that I also felt your pain as I watched from my perch as state treasurer while you and your neighbors lost tens of millions of dollars that you entrusted to me for your kids' college educations. You know, the free market can sometimes be a bitch.
"(On a related note, did I mention that you may soon be able to get a free crock pot if you open a new college savings account at Broadway Bank? We're still trying to clear that promotion with the federal regulators who occasionally drop by. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest details.)
"It'll be difficult for me to leave my job as state treasurer, but I will do so knowing that after three years in office, I'm leaving the Land of Lincoln in better financial shape than even the State of California.
"So tonight, having paid a lifetime's worth of dues on the basketball courts of Greece and as a loan officer at my family's bank, I stand ready to take on Congressman Mark Kirk, whose dangerous ideas and radical brand of Tea Party politics have made him the darling of the gun-loving Bible Belt that stretches from Kenilworth to Lake Forest, Illinois. I ask you to help me defeat Congressman Kirk, so I can carry on the fine legislative work of Senator Roland Burris.
"My friends, it comes down to this. I'm thirty-three years old, and I have nothing left to prove in the private sector or in state government. So I stand before you now and ask you to help me become the youngest of the fifty-one white millionaires who make their home in the United States Senate.
"Thank you and good night. I hope to see everyone at tomorrow's Unity Breakfast."
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