An Oak Brook Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate got a boost Thursday from an unlikely source - Democrat Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, who gave props to Mike Labno while predicting his Republican opponent will fall victim to tea party wrath.
Following the loss of a moderate candidate to a tea party activist in Delaware's GOP Senate primary Tuesday, Giannoulias issued a news release calling Republican opponent Mark Kirk the "conservative wave's ... next victim in November, with Mike Labno as the only pro-life, pro-gun candidate running for Senate in Illinois."
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The effort is a strategy by Giannoulias' campaign to siphon Republican votes away from Kirk in the extremely close race for President Barack Obama's old seat.
As a five-term 10th District congressman, Kirk has supported stem cell research, several gun control laws and abortion rights, though he opposes federal funding of abortion.
Labno, a libertarian from Oak Brook, said he's happy with the publicity.
It doesn't make him warm to Giannoulias or Kirk, though.
"The two main guys, I guess I have some disdain for both of them," he said.
This is the 39-year-old electrical project construction manager's first bid for office. He has not yet raised enough in campaign contributions to file with the Federal Election Commission.
"A couple years ago, I decided I was going to put up or shut up. Running for office is something I should do," he said. "The reason I chose the Senate race, the federal government is choking this nation."
He says Kirk and Giannoulias are "on the wrong side of the fence. "Politics is supposed to be local. Someone needs to get in there, a regular guy like me, and get put behind enemy lines. This is enough."
Along with advocating for gun rights and against abortion, Labno's platform also centers around downsizing or eliminating some federal departments, taxes and regulations. He wants Americans to be able to "opt-out" of Social Security and control their own retirement savings.
Since Labno got on the ballot in August, he says he's noticed several Democratic Party insiders and "team Giannoulias people" following him on Facebook.
"A new one popped up yesterday. I posed a question to them. Are you guys going to get me into the debate? I would dare say this. If Alexi is really serious about his legitimacy, I would challenge him to tell Mr. Kirk that I should be allowed at the two debates that are being handled by their campaigns."
Kirk and Giannoulias are scheduled to participate in face-to-face debates on NBC's "Meet the Press" Oct. 10, and with the League of Women Voters and ABC-7 Oct. 19.
Pat Brady, Illinois GOP Chairman, said Republicans do not plan to highlight Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones to take away votes from Giannoulias, in return.
"No, because we're not desperate," he said.