Top of the ballot: Giannoulias family bank fails, Sen. Bennett at 22 percent in poll

TOP OF THE BALLOT THIS MORNING: Alexi Giannoulias moves to explain family bank failure; Sen. Robert Bennett faces big trouble at his state GOP convention; and James Dobson endorses Trey Grayson.

Giannoulias bank fails

As expected, the family bank of Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias failed on Friday, leaving the candidate to distance himself from the practices that led it down that path.

Giannoulias sent out an e-mail to supporters almost immediately after the news broke that Broadway Bank had been taken over by federal authorities.

“It was because my father instilled in his sons the importance of helping others that I decided to leave the bank in 2005 to pursue public service,” he wrote. “At the time I left, according to every independent analysis, the bank was one of the best performing in Illinois.”

That the Giannoulias family bank folded is not necessarily a game-changer. But Giannoulias’s opponents have made great pains to point the finger at some loans to questionable characters – including a recent Chicago Tribune story about $20 million in loans made to two convicted felons while Giannoulias was still at the bank.

Poll shows Bennett in deep

A new poll of delegates to the Utah GOP convention in two weeks shows Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) may have trouble even making the final ballot there.

Attorney Mike Lee leads Bennett 31-22 in the Dan Jones and Associates poll, while former congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater got 17 percent and activist Cherilyn Eagar got 10 percent. Another 5 percent of votes split between a number of other candidates.

That means, as of right now, 63 percent of delegates are ready to vote against the incumbent senator. Once the field is whittled down to two candidates, the winner needs 60 percent to avoid a two-person primary and win the nomination outright.

Of course, whether Bennett even makes that final pairing appears to be a real question. According to these numbers, if Bridgewater can pick off enough of the Eagar and other votes (once those candidates are eliminated), he could pretty easily pass Bennett and earn a matchup with Lee.

Dobson backs Grayson

Dr. James Dobson has endorsed Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the GOP Senate primary there, Grayson’s campaign announced this morning.

Maybe even more so than in neighboring Indiana, where the Focus on the Family founder endorsed former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Dobson’s backing could really mean something in Kentucky.

Grayson continues to run behind Rand Paul, but he hopes recent endorsements from Dobson and retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) can help him pick off some of Paul’s voters.

Other updates

-Former Wisconsin Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel (R) is set to announce his candidacy against Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) today. Leinenkugel faces businessman Terrance Wall in the primary.

-In Minnesota's governor's race, state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher won the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement on Saturday, beating Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. She still faces former Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) and former state Rep. Matt Entenza in the primary. On the GOP side, state Reps. Tom Emmer and Marty Seifert will do battle at Friday’s state convention.

-Another poll shows Dino Rossi (R) leading Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in a prospective matchup, this time by 10 points. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that several other, less well-known Republicans are within the margin of error.

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