Giannoulias declares run for Senate

Reid Wilson has the story:
llinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) announced Monday morning he is filing papers to take on appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D) in 2010.

In a release Monday, Giannoulias said he would run for the seat once held by President Obama, whom he termed a

Giannoulias has close ties to both Obama and Durbin, with whom he recently traveled to Greece and Turkey on a trade mission. Many saw the trip, which came amid near-daily revelations of Burris' relationship with Blagojevich, as a none-too-subtle indication that the senior senator would like a new seat-mate after the embarrassing Burris experiment.

In his first term as treasurer, Giannoulias has positioned himself as a reformer with an eye on bigger offices. At just 32 years old, Giannoulias spent millions on his first bid for elected office. He is a former top official at Broadway Bank, an Illinois business owned by his Greek immigrant family.

Giannoulias, though, also is likely to come under fire. The Illinois Republican Party, seeking to link virtually every Illinois Democrat with the disgraced Blagojevich, accuses Giannoulias of having lent money to convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko in Giannoulias' capacity as a bank officer, as well as to other figures who have recently been embroiled in legal trouble.

Illinois Republicans also hit Giannoulias for benefiting from Blagojevich's patronage after the governor appointed his brother to a state board twice.

Giannoulias' exploratory committee sent notice of his filing to local media Monday morning, and he will spend much of the day giving interviews to news outlets around the state.

Even if Burris retires at the end of his short two-year stint, the state treasurer may not get a free pass in the Democratic primary, which will happen in late February 2010. Former Commerce Secretary William Daley, a close ally of Obama's, is said to be considering a run as well.

On the Republican side, Reps. Mark Kirk (R) and Peter Roskam (R) are contemplating runs of their own.