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  Burris could be challenged by Obama ally
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Last EditedRBH  Jan 22, 2009 08:20pm
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News DateFriday, January 23, 2009 02:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionOne of President Obama’s close friends and basketball buddies is considering a campaign against Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) in the Democratic primary.

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is holding conversations with leading Illinois Democrats in preparation for a possible candidacy, according to a Democratic operative familiar with his decision-making process.

“He’s been talking to a lot of Democrats in Illinois who believe that this seat is gone is if Burris is the nominee. If it’s Mark Kirk or a rich Republican, we’ve got to hold this seat. That’s enough to encourage him to take a very serious look,” said the operative.

At 32, Giannoulias has been on the fast track in Illinois politics since leaving his job as a bank vice president to run for state treasurer in 2006. Inspired by Obama’s Senate campaign, he ran against the Democratic candidate backed by the party establishment and, aided by Obama’s endorsement, prevailed.

He considers Obama to be his political mentor and was a frequent participant at Obama’s pickup basketball games during the presidential primary. (He played professional basketball in Greece.)
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