Mark Kirk forgot to thank the man most responsible for his victory

During debates, interviews, stump speeches, on the trail of one of the nastiest U.S. Senate contests I can remember in my home state of Illinois — and that’s saying a lot —  Republican Mark Kirk almost always landed a bull’s-eye when he took aim at Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. His three-word bullet was Michael “Jaws” Giorango, a “outfit” guy to whom Broadway Bank, when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer there, loaned millions. If the bad guy’s name had been, say, Michael Jay Graham, Giannoulias might be heading to Washington.

Kirk dropped the name of “Jaws” almost as often as Giannoulias dropped the name of Bush guru Karl Rove, whom he portrayed as Kirk’s godfather and financier. Rove is evil incarnate to progressives, but apparently “Karl Rove” didn’t quite pack the same punch with independents.

While watching Kirk’s victory speech, I half-expected him to thank Jaws Giorango.

He didn’t, but he did invite Giannoulias to meet him for a beer at the Billy Goat Tavern where the late newsman Mike Royko used to hang out. Royko would have loved this fight — in this corner mob banker Giannoulias; in that corner liar Mark Kirk. (Kirk was first exposed over Memorial Day weekend exaggerating some items on his resume.)

Disclosure: My husband contributed, one time, to Giannoulias’s campaign.

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Another pellet from the midterms: After five terms, Mark Kirk left his safe 10th district congressional seat to run for the Senate. The Democrat running to take the 10th, Dan Seals, had twice run unsuccessfully against Kirk, so he had the name recognition, albeit as a loser. The winner this time, against the predictions of most polls and pundits, is Republican Bob Dold, making his first run for office.

President of a family-owned pest-control business, Dold joins a growing group of pols who are themselves in the extermination business or whose fathers were. An example of the former is Tom DeLay (R), once a powerful congressman from Texas. Examples of the latter are Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

If only one of them could come up with a cure for bedbugs, that would be a real public service.

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Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky easily won her seventh term in Congress. But this time she had an articulate challenger in Harvard-educated (college and law school) Joel Pollak. A hawk and passionate defender of Israel, Pollak was endorsed by Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who said at a Pollak fundraiser last June
that if Pollak wins, he would immediately raise the IQ of Congress by several points.

It was a sometimes ugly race; political opponents usually dislike each other, but in the case of these two, “detest” is a better word. I wasn’t surprised to hear Pollak on the radio the morning after his defeat sound negative about Schakowsky. He complained that she had not called him to accept his concession. “My campaign manager called hers just after 9:20 last night,” Pollak told me. “No response, and no message left. My campaign manager tried again a minute later. No response, and she handed me the phone to leave a message. I left a message of concession for Jan Schakowsky. Since then, no response.” I asked Pollak if he plans to challenge Schakowsky again in 2012. “Yes, it is possible I will run again — too early to say at the moment, but there is a great deal of enthusiasm among our volunteers.”

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And now on to the race that really matters here: the nonpartisan primary on Feb. 22 to replace Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is retiring. The obvious front-runner as I write: Rahm Emanuel, who exited the White House chief of staff’s job weeks before the midterms to run for Chicago mayor. On Thursday, Rahm will be in Beverly Hills at the home of billionaire Haim Saban collecting big bucks for the mayor’s race from Hollywood movers. Rahm hasn’t officially announced yet, but anyone who believes he’s not running would also believe that the millions Rahm will have in his campaign fund won’t help him win what he has publicly described as his dream job. Oh, and Rahm is a buddy of Rich Daley and a BFF of Rich’s younger brother, Bill, Commerce secretary in the Clinton administration and chairman of Al Gore’s campaign. The Daley brothers haven’t endorsed anyone, but I’m convinced they’re whispering sweet somethings in Rahm’s ear. He’s their guy.