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Goldman vs. Goldman in Illinois?

Soon New Jersey Democrat Jon Corzine may not be the only former Goldman Sachs executive serving in the U.S. Senate.

Two of his fellow Goldman alums could wind up facing off in November 2004 in Illinois. Jack Ryan, a senior Goldman investment banker who left the firm three years ago, is seeking the Republican nomination for the Senate seat, while Blair Hull, who briefly worked at Goldman after it bought his derivatives trading firm in 1999, hopes to carry the Democratic flag.

Hull, 60, couldn't be reached for comment on whether Corzine encouraged him to run. But the 43-year-old Ryan has the support of Goldman CEO Hank Paulson, an Illinois native and Republican stalwart. Paulson, formerly Ryan's boss in Goldman's Chicago office, sponsored an August fundraiser for his protégé at Fraunces Tavern in downtown Manhattan, just a few steps from Goldman's headquarters.

Illinois's Senate primaries have been thrown wide open since Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald's surprise announcement that he will retire when his term expires next year. Ryan, who had been teaching history, English, law and SAT preparation at Hales Franciscan High School, an all-male school in the shadow of the notoriously crime-ridden Robert Taylor Homes housing project on Chicago's South Side, jumped at the opportunity.

"The question is, where can I make a bigger difference?" says Ryan. "Is it better to stay at Hales, where we know we're impacting the kids, or is it better to try to have a broader impact overall?" Last year Hales placed 100 percent of its graduates -- all African-American, many of them struggling with poverty -- in colleges that included Yale, Stanford and Georgetown. Still, Ryan can't resist the allure of wider influence: "It's not an obvious answer, but in the end I decided to go for it."