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SPRINGFIELD — For the first time in recent memory, Republican voters in Illinois GOP presidential primary will carry some weight in the national race.

By Anthony Brino

SPRINGFIELD — For the first time in recent memory, Republican voters in Illinois GOP presidential primary will carry some weight in the national race.

Typically, presidential nominees would be decided in party caucuses and primaries well before Illinois voters get to their primaries.

“For the first time in decades, Illinois will be a factor in the presidential primary,” said Jim Nowlan, a political scientist at the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, a public policy research center at the University of Illinois.

The race for the GOP nod has been close since the Iowa caucuses in January kicked off election season, making every primary important, and many primaries nail-bitingly close.

Illinois looks to be no different.

A Chicago Tribune poll released today shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney out in front, with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania running second. Romney’s support is centered around Chicagoland, while Santorum’s base is built around downstate, according to the poll. In the survey of 600 Republicans registered in Illinois, 35 percent said they favored Romney, while 31 percent gave a nod to Santorum. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia was favored by 16 percent of those polled, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was favored by 7 percent.

Besides having less popular support than Romney among Republican voters, Santorum handicapped himself early on in Illinois. Santorum appointed just 44 of 54 delegates in the state. The other three candidates all have a full slate of 54 delegates.

Illinois’ 54 elected delegates are divided by congressional districts. Each of the state’s 19 congressional district gets at least two delegates, while some districts can get up to four. The state also has 15 so-called “floaters,” voting for whomever they want at the nominating convention.

If a candidate wins the popular vote in a congressional district, they get all the delegates in that district. Those delegates go on to cast votes for their candidates at the Republican National Convention in August in Tampa.

Even if Santorum wins the popular vote in Illinois, he can still only get 44 delegates because he failed to nominate delegates in four congressional districts.

“His campaign filed at the end of the day on the last day to file. Once you’ve missed that filing window, you’ve missed the filing window,” said Ken Menzel, a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The contest in Illinois comes after months of Republican debates and primaries, with each candidate pitching their vision for America — and their criticisms of President Obama’s policies — to voters across the country.

Voters in Mississippi, Alabama and Hawaii cast ballots in GOP primaries on Tuesday. Missouri Republican voters go to the polls Saturday.

The candidates have been advertising on the state’s airwaves and rallying supporters to contribute to their campaigns.

Romney has raised $1.9 million in Illinois; Paul has raised $451,800; Gingrich, $247,600; and Santorum, $106,100, according to the filings with the Federal Election Commission.

“In Illinois, the polls suggest a small Romney lead over Santorum, but with plenty of undecideds,” said Brian Gaines, a political scientist at the University of Illinois. “I suspect that it will be a fairly small Romney ‘win’ in total votes. At this point, I have a hard time imagining anyone except Romney winning the candidacy.”

Dan Rutherford, the Illinois treasurer and the chairman of Romney’s Illinois campaign, said he believes Romney’s business prowess — he was a former private equity manager — will impress voters in a state such as Illinois, which is plagued with financial problems.

“The strongest quality he brings is private-sector experience, and that’s what we need,” Rutherford said.

Representatives from the Gingrich and Paul campaigns couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jon Zahm, a member of the Henry County Board and director of Santorum’s Illinois campaign, said even though Santorum has raised far less money than Romney, Santorum is a viable candidate.

“I think his ‘Made in the USA’ jobs plan, which wants to bring manufacturing back to the Midwest, has a lot of appeal in Illinois,” Zahm said.

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2 Comments

  1. Ron Paul for president!

    Even if you don't like ALL of his ideas, he is the one candidate who will clean house of the corruption.

    FDA head: ex-head of Monsanto  (try regulating GMOs when your company owns 90% of the market)

    EPA head- Ex-head of BP.  Regulations and enforcements on massive oil spills- only for the guys not working for BP.   Sanctions on Iran?  Not for BP-   Clean up the enviornment through strict enforcement of property rights laws.  DOn't give special exceptions to connected companies.

    Secretary of Education- Arne Duncan (ever look at this guy's resume?!  He has NEVER been a teacher nor worked in a school for that matter. He was "friends" with Daley in order to become CPS superintendent and played b-ball with Obama to become head of education. Not exactly a stellar record for deciding nation wide issues- CPS is no role model for education.  Bring back the power to the states and individual school districts to make decisions!

    Treasury- Find one guy who didn't used to work for Goldman Sachs.   You trust the bankers to do what's right for the 99.99% with our money?

    Defense-  How much money do we waste overseas in the name of terrorist prevention while our own children in America are given dog food qualiy meat for school lunches?   Keep the money here!   Use it to build up social programs and to help our own people!!   http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-food-schoolsbre82902m-20120309,0,5494613.story

    YOu want to go green, cut the wars for oil. Let the gas prices rise.  PEople will go green because it's the best economical choice, no stimulus money needed.

    Federal Reserve-  Why do we have a group of private, non-elected banksters with complete control over the money supply? That's right, the FEd  is a privately held company with connections to all the major banks.    You don't like the idea of a gold standard? 13 states are already printing silver and gold coins in preparation for the currency crisis that has been brought on, in part, by the Fed continued printing- http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/03/pf/states_currencies/index.htm

    DOn't be fooled by the negative press about racism, anti-semitism, or abortion..Words are just words, especially if ROn Paul didn't pen them, actions and voting records are what matters:  Look at his speeches on these topics and the voting records that match these speeches:

    Racism- Judicial system unfairly targets African Americans-http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57354591-503544/ron-paul-says-he-is-not-racist-slams-drug-laws-as-unfair-to-blacks/

    On Israel- Ron Paul repeating the words of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. Ron Paul was called an anti-semite for this exact message. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gN5UrPB-xA

    Pro-CHoice Rights- Ron Paul is against abortion, personally.  HOwever, he believes that the federal government should have NO RIGHT to determine this issue. HE has never used his vote against abortion while in Senate.  He wants to put the power back to the states.

    Gay Rights- He has always voted in favor of allowing people to choose who to marry and what to do with t heir own bodies. YOur body is your right. This is the libertarian way.

    But he's an isolationist?   The current military personnel don't seem to agree.  According to http://www.opensecrets.org, which keeps track of all $ given to politicians, Ron Paul receives more money from active military than all the other candidates combined.  The military are Ron Paul's biggest donors.  Who were Obama and Romney's biggest donors in 2008?  Goldman Sachs. Both of them.  A vote for any of the others is a vote for the 1%.

    Ron Paul for honesty and reliability. Return the power to the people.

    OR at least Ron Paul for a good debate with Obama.

    1. Love Ron Paul

      He's the only candidate, of EITHER party, who will truely allow us to live freely. 

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