Democrat Giannoulias resorts to kid-to-kid strategy in TV spots about driver’s licenses, taxes, corruption — and basketball

The two new TV ads feature the former state treasurer playing basketball with children as he promises to fight corruption and improve services at driver’s license facilities. “With modernized services, saving time and money could be a slam dunk,” he says in one.

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Image from campaign ad for Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois secretary of state race.

Image from campaign ad for Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois secretary of state race.

Giannoulias campaign

Democratic Illinois secretary of state nominee Alexi Giannoulias is planning to release two new TV campaign ads to air in the Chicago area Tuesday — the first batch in his general election race to succeed the retiring Jesse White.

And once again they feature the former state treasurer playing basketball with children, a theme he introduced in his primary election campaign, which saw the Near North Sider handily defeat City Clerk Anna Valencia and Ald. David Moore (17th).

Giannoulias now faces Republican Dan Brady, a veteran state representative from Bloomington, and Libertarian Jon Stewart in the November election.

An ad called “Promise” features Giannoulias teaching kids basketball skills and vowing to clean up government “for everyone, whether you are a Democrat or a Re[publican.”

“As secretary of state, I’ll keep politics out of the office, so that when these kids are old enough to pay taxes, they’ll get better services and less corruption,” Giannoulias says. “And yes, some more ice cream, too.”

If elected, Giannoulias has said he’ll enact an executive order on day one to eliminate pay-to-play politics by prohibiting contractors from doing business with the office and banning employees from contributing to his campaign fund. An ethics plan has been a key promise of Giannoulias’ campaign, even as his primary opponents tried to bring up baggage from his past, including controversies surrounding his family’s failed bank.

Another commercial dubbed “Skip The Line” features antsy kids waiting in line to play hoops, with Giannoulias as a narrator, detailing his plans to modernize the secretary of state office by allowing online appointments, creating digital driver’s licenses and eliminating lines at driver’s license facilities.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican. Government needs to step up and make life easier for everyone,” Giannoulias says. “With modernized services, saving time and money could be a slam dunk.”

The bipartisan theme comes as Giannoulias tries to reach downstate voters. But the ads will first run simultaneously Tuesday on broadcast and cable, beginning with Chicago and the collar counties.

Giannoulias’ campaign said the TV spots feature new footage from the same filming that was used in his primary ads. In one of those ads, Giannoulias called former President Barack Obama his “friend and basketball buddy.”

Giannoulias was the fundraising leader in the primary. Campaign finance records show his campaign had $773,259.33 cash on hand at the end of June. Since then, he’s received more than $1.6 million in contributions.

Brady has $95,298.33 cash on hand, records show.

Brady, a 21-year General Assembly veteran and deputy minority leader, has promised to modernize the secretary of state’s office. He beat former federal prosecutor John Milhiser in the primary election 77% to 23% to win the GOP bid.

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