Durbin Is Back on the Trail for Giannoulias

Posted August 18, 2010 at 7:31pm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Demonstrating the high stakes in Illinois’ open Senate race, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday joined Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias in a downstate tour less than a week after Durbin underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his stomach.

Giannoulias, currently the state treasurer, called Durbin “a warrior” for joining him on a jobs-focused tour through a handful of small towns in downstate Illinois. But the involvement of the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat so soon after the removal of a small gastrointestinal stromal tumor also suggested how important the open seat race is to Democratic leaders.

“He truly is a warrior less than a week after surgery to agree to do this because he recognizes why this race is so critically important to the future of this great state,” Giannoulias said at a news conference to announce his 16-town tour through central and southern Illinois over the next four days. Durbin is scheduled to participate in a handful of those stops.

“I’m honored to be the chair of Alexi Giannoulias’ campaign; I’m looking forward to the day when he serves as my colleague in the United States Senate,” Durbin told reporters. “I believe we’re in the position now to have the momentum in this race where we can move forward from here to November on Election Day.”

The men made their comments following a “Governor’s Day brunch” at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, which served as the headline event for “Democrat Day” at the state fair.

Party leaders and statewide candidates delivered speeches to campaign workers, party chairmen and precinct captains in the morning, followed by shorter remarks at the fairgrounds in the afternoon.

Democrats from state Attorney General Lisa Madigan to Gov. Pat Quinn sought to distance the party from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday of lying to the FBI. Quinn took over for Blagojevich as governor last January after the beleaguered Democrat and former House Member was impeached and removed from office.

GOP officeholders and candidates will gather Thursday for “Republican Day” at the fairgrounds in the state capital. GOP Rep. Mark Kirk, who is locked in a tight Senate race against Giannoulias, is expected to be one of the headliners at the event.