Illinois Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois state treasurer, huddled with White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the state of play of the open Senate seat once held by President Obama.
The meeting was not supposed to be known to the public, but Giannoulias was recognized by reporters while on the White House grounds.
Not generally known: Giannoulias also met with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chief Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and DSCC staffers and with key members of the Democratic labor union community.
After an ill-fated attempt to recruit Attorney General Lisa Madigan into the contest, the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Obama team would not take sides in the Illinois Democratic primary. The White House was shopping for a candidate worried about the Democratic hold on the seat–and presuming that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), with substantial fund-raising potential, would be the GOP nominee.
Giannoulias is ahead of rivals in fund-raising.
Chicago Urban League executive director Cheryle Jackson (on leave) has raised $354,000; Giannoulias, in the race the longest, has raised about $2.8 million since March. Former City Hall Inspector General David Hoffman has raised about $400,000 and loaned his campaign $500,000.