Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk have been campaigning against each other as if they were the only ones running for the U.S. Senate. A Tribune/WGN-TV poll sheds some light on why: Both have opened up leads ahead of the Feb. 2 primary elections.
The weeks of sniping between Giannoulias, the first-term state treasurer, and Kirk, a five-term North Shore congressman, illustrate the importance of next year's Senate election -- a rare open-seat contest with national implications that is expected to attract a lot of money on both sides.
It's a seat with a famous -- and infamous -- pedigree. President Barack Obama held it. Disgraced ex- Gov. Rod Blagojevich stands accused of trying to sell it. And his beleaguered appointee Roland Burris opted not to run for it.