For the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, Illinois will elect a new secretary of state this fall, and former Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has secured the Democratic party’s nomination in the race, fending off Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia in a hotly-contested battle, the Associated Press projects.
Giannoulias will now run in the November general election to replace Secretary of State Jesse White, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek a seventh term in office.
Giannoulias and Valencia were seen as the frontrunners in the race, and both candidates exchanged pointed barbs over alleged ethical improprieties in their respective political careers.
Chicago Ald. David Moore and activist Sidney Moore finished in a distant third and fourth in the race.
Giannoulias, a financier who formerly served as Illinois’ treasurer from 2007 to 2011, is no stranger to the Illinois political scene, having unsuccessfully run for the U.S. Senate in 2010 when he lost to former Sen. Mark Kirk.
More recently, Giannoulias has primarily focused his work in the private sector, but was named to the Chicago Public Library Board in 2018 before launching his campaign for secretary of state.
Valencia is also a familiar name in Illinois political circles, having worked in former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration and having served as campaign manager for Sen. Dick Durbin in his 2014 reelection bid.
Valencia was appointed as Chicago’s city clerk in 2016 and won reelection in 2019. She also received White’s endorsement in the primary election.
The two candidates traded accusations of ethical lapses throughout the primary cycle. Giannoulias called attention to lobbying done by Valencia’s husband on behalf of several companies, with the city clerk having to revise ethics disclosure forms in the wake of reports from NBC 5 and other outlets about key omissions on those disclosures.
Valencia meanwhile criticized Giannoulias for his oversight of the state’s Bright Start education investment program, with Oppenheimer Funds’ risky investments falling under scrutiny during his tenure as treasurer.
She also criticized Giannoulias over the failure of Broadway Bank, with the former treasurer having served as a senior loan officer at the bank his family had founded.