CHICAGO
05/24/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Alexi Giannoulias Leaving Race? Columnist Thinks So, Campaign Says It's 'Fiction'

A Chicago Sun-Times column has some local (and national) politicos wondering about Alexi Giannoulias' future as the Democratic Senate nominee for Illinois.

On Monday, Laura Washington wrote:

Broadway Bank is a goner, and so is Giannoulias' hard-fought nomination. His opponent, U.S. Rep Mark Kirk, is cruising while the treasurer is getting rolled by controversy. Getting him off the Democratic ticket will be as painful to watch as his inexorable descent into unelectability. Yet the Democrats must make it happen. Giannoulias is a dead man walking.

...

The vultures are circling from the shores of Lake Michigan to a certain D.C. Rose Garden. They are flexing their claws. The whispering campaign is already under way. The get-Alexi-out effort will make the scramble for the lieutenant governor's job look like an Easter Egg roll.

Despite his personal friendship with President Obama, some have accused the White House crowd of trying to oust Giannoulias as a Senate candidate by courting Attorney General Lisa Madigan and others for the seat.

And with troubles like Broadway Bank and Boston Blackie's making headlines since Giannoulias won the nomination, Republican opponent Mark Kirk has painted Giannoulias as a slick and irresponsible banker with a long list of shady associates.

Two weeks ago, HuffPost Chicago blogger Carol Felsenthal suspected David Axelrod might be trying to muscle Giannoulias off the ticket, and Carol Marin wrote in the Sun-Times: "Expect heat on Alexi to exit the kitchen."

But for all the speculation, Giannoulias continues his campaign, and has even been ahead in polls. His campaign spokeswoman Kathleen Strand called Washington's column "fiction," according to NBC Chicago's Edward McClelland.

Meanwhile, he has been attacking Kirk for for wanting to repeal healthcare reform, and campaigning with small business owners to show how HCR will help Illinoisans.

And that's a good thing, writes McClelland. After all, the Democratic Party in neighboring Indiana is already struggling with Republican criticism after hand-picking Brad Ellsworth to be Senate nominee.

It's going to look even worse if it happens in Illinois, which has a long and sometimes-deserved reputation for subverting the democratic process. Anyone who replaces Giannoulias will smell of the smoke-filled room from now until November.

The rich, callow Giannoulias is not the perfect candidate. Working in a failing family bank that lent money to mobsters is not the perfect resume.

But Democrats, G is your dog. You're going to have to run with him.