Giannoulias Makes Senate Run Official, With Hat Tips To ‘My Friend’ Obama

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ state treasurer formally announced Sunday that he’ll run for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias promised supporters at a downtown Chicago hotel Sunday morning that he would work for reform in Washington if elected. A second event was scheduled for later in the day in Springfield.

In announcing his candidacy, Giannoulias echoed the Obama presidential campaign’s message of change.

“If we are going to reform health care, or change energy policy or turn our economy around, we cannot go backward. We must embrace change and move forward,” Giannoulias said. He said he was proud to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat “once held by my friend, my mentor and my inspiration, President Barack Obama.”

The first-term treasurer hopes to win the seat now held by Sen. Roland Burris, who has served under a cloud of suspicion since his appointment by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The ousted governor was charged with trying to sell the seat for personal and political gain and despite his arrest, appointed Burris to the post last December.

Burris has said he will not seek the seat in 2010 because of fundraising problems.

On the Republican side, five-term Congressman Mark Kirk announced last week that he’s running.

Giannoulias took a jab at Kirk Sunday, saying he was offering to “pledge reform with one hand while the other hand takes millions from corporate special interests and votes for the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”

“That’s not ‘independence,'” Giannoulias said. “That’s the same old Washington way. That’s the same tired politics that voters rejected in 2008 and that’s the same tired politics that we will defeat in 2010.”

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