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Illinois Primary Showdown

By: Alex Rich

The record breaking March weather is not the only seasonal anomaly. For the first time in many years, Illinois is playing a major role in the Republican Presidential Primary.

According to CNN, Mitt Romney leads the delegate count at 518, well short of the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination when the convention convenes in late August in Tampa, Fla.

Battling Romney for the 54 delegates from Illinois are Rick Santorum who has 239, Newt Gingrich with 139, and Ron Paul who has 69.

Santorum is expected to preform well in Southern Ill., while Romney’s base is focused in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

Although winning Illinois will not decide the contest, it could be the shot in the arm the Romney campaign needs to put them over the edge leading into the convention. After hard fights in his native Mich. and neighboring Ohio, Romney is looking to continue the perception that his is the inevitable candidate.

Many pundits did not believe Illinois would be a factor in the Republican race, but with the rising of Rick Santorum as a possible contender, and strong support in the Southern primaries of Ala. and Miss., the primary process has dragged on.

If Romney were to win the Illinois primary, there would be mixed feelings among the patrons of Washington Square Park on N. Dearborn St. and W. Delaware Pl.

Brian Kelly, a 29-year-old waiter for Fred’s at Barneys New York, says he believes Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich should drop out of the race.

“I don’t want Ron Paul to drop out,” he said. “He seems to be what a conservative should be, in that he’s not a corporatist. He’s a constitutionalist.”

Another park-goer, Kathy Burkholder, is unwavering in her support of the frontrunner.

“I hope they drop out,” she said.

Burkholder, an accountant from Fla. visiting Chicago, says her personal experience influenced her support of the candidate.

“We had a bad recession in Florida,” she said. “If the economy turns around, it’s going to be good for my business and hopefully good for the country.”

Burkholder cited the economy as her main reason for supporting the candidate, but also indicated a strong wish to see the current president replaced.

According to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Burkholder may get her wish. The poll has Romney with a sizeable lead over his opponents, with as much as 45 percent of the vote.

This puts him well ahead of Santorum, who is polling around 30 percent. Gingrich and Paul round out the field with 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.