Giannoulias defeats Valencia in the Democratic primary for Illinois secretary of state

Alexi Giannoulias defeated Anna Valencia and two other candidates in the Democratic Party primary for Illinois secretary of state on June 28, 2022. Giannoulias received 53% of the vote to Valencia’s 40%.

Giannoulias and Valencia led in media attention, fundraising, and endorsements going into the primary. David Moore and Sidney Moore also ran in the primary.

Giannoulias served as Illinois state treasurer and was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois in 2010. Former Gov. Pat Quinn (D) appointed Giannoulias as chairman of the Illinois community college system in 2011. Giannoulias also worked as a professor and founded the Kanela Breakfast Club Restaurant Group. Giannoulias said he decided to run because the government “has prioritized the interests of the powerful and wealthy over the welfare of the majority, resulting in a lack of trust and confidence in our elected officials, especially among those with less means and people of color who have been left out and alienated by the status quo.”

Valencia has been Chicago’s city clerk since 2017. Valencia worked for the campaigns of Sen. Dick Durbin (D), Sen. Gary Peters (D), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D) and as director of legislative counsel and government affairs in the Chicago mayor’s office. Valencia said she would “fight to improve services by increasing transparency, modernizing state government, and focusing on more flexible services” and “be a voice for people who often don’t see themselves in state leaders like downstaters, working families, moms, and people of color.”

Describing the dynamics of the race, the Chicago Tribune‘s Jeremy Gorner said, “Giannoulias and Valencia have made ethics a central issue in the race for an office that has a history of corruption in Illinois.” Giannoulias said Valencia, as Chicago city clerk, should have been more transparent about her husband’s work as a lobbyist. “She’s currently married to someone who lobbies the city of Chicago that she serves, and yet she says that if she’s elected, she says she won’t (vouch for him) then,” Giannoulias said. “My opponent wants to distract from his 10 years of being MIA, and then popping up to run,” Valencia said.

Valencia criticized Giannoulias’ handling of Bright Start, the state’s college savings fund, during his time as state treasurer and said the bank Giannoulias’ family founded, Broadway Bank, made “sketchy loans to mobsters.” Giannoulias said he was “very proud of the work I did as state treasurer. We ran one of most ethical offices in the country,” adding that Broadway Bank “helped tens of thousands of people achieve the American dream.”

Incumbent Jesse White (D), who did not seek re-election, was first elected to the secretary’s office in 1998. In the last general election, White defeated Jason Helland (R) 68% to 29%.