Presidential delegate filing highlights Illinois' role

By Benjamin Yount, Stephanie Fryer and Anthony Brino
Illinois Statehouse News
   SPRINGFIELD - 1/8/2012 - While the Republican presidential candidates are in New Hampshire this weekend, their surrogates are trying their best to bring the one-upmanship of the race to Illinois.
   January 6 was the last day for the 2012 GOP presidential campaigns to file their delegates with the state Board of Elections.
   Illinois State University political science professor Bob Bradley said the delegate slates help gauge the strength of a campaign, if not the candidate.
   "That's why you pay attention to these filings," Bradley said. "You have to see who is on these delegate lists. They could be the next up-and-comers in the party. You also get a sense of who is important."
   The delegates, chosen from each of the Illinois' 18 Congressional Districts in the March primary, will go to the national nominating conventions where they will vote on the nominee for president. This year, the conventions will be held in August in Tampa, Fla., for the Republicans and September in Charlotte, N.C. for the Democrats.
   Illinois Republicans will send 108 delegates in all, but only 54 will vote for a presidential candidate. The other 54 will serve as alternates. Democrats will send 123 to their convention for President Barack Obama.
   Delegates are elected individually from each of the state's 18 Congressional districts. Voters have to chose the delegate by name; a vote for the candidate is not counted as a vote for that candidate's delegates.
   Newt Gingrich's and Rick Santorum's Illinois campaigns were among the last-minute filers Friday.
   Gingrich's Illinois campaign chairman Keith Hansen said voters shouldn't read too much into filing on the last day or the lack of a "headline" name on the delegate or alternate list.
  "We've had conversations with some prominent names in the political community in Illinois, and they have agreed to join our state campaign committee," Hansen said. "We will be making some of those announcements next week."
   Among the delegates for the former U.S. House Speaker are state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, state Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, and former state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville.
   The Georgia native’s team filed a full slate of 54 delegates and four alternates.
   Santorum's delegate list is light on lawmakers, but full of some of Illinois' bigger conservative names. Santorum's campaign filed a slate of 47 delegates and 40 alternates.
   "What you find is many of Illinois' tea party leaders, pro-life and pro-family leaders as well," said Jon Zahm, spokesman for Santorum's Illinois campaign.
   Former Republican state Rep. Al Salvi and his wife have filed as Santorum delegates as have Irene Napier, the head of the anti-abortion group, the Right to Life of McHenry County, and David Smith, chairman of the conservative political group, the Illinois Family Action pack.
   Mitt Romney's campaign was the first of the GOP candidates to file its list of supporters. The campaign for the former Massachusetts governor also filed a full slate of 54 delegates and 54 alternates.
   Romney's Illinois campaign chairman and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he was first in line Tuesday with his slate of supporters.
   Joining Rutherford on the Romney team are state Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, and state Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg.
   Supporters of Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul filed their 54 delegates and 54 alternates earlier this week, but that list is absent of any state lawmakers.
   Andrew Craig, Moline delegate for Paul, said Paul supporters don't need or, in many cases, want big-name politicians representing their cause.
   "I think it's more important to have average, everyday citizens," Craig said. "We don't need to be supported by the political class."
   There are no delegates who filed for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's campaign.
   The delegate list for Obama reads like the who’s who of prominent Democrats, including state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, and state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan. 
   Bradley said people selected to be delegates are known commodities in the political world, but he adds that "going to a convention is a cool perk."
   But the conventions, Bradley said, will not decide the candidates. The race for the GOP nomination will probably be over long before the August convention, he said.
   "You have one or two candidates who stay in the race no matter what," Bradley said. "But for the most part the race will be over by the Super Tuesday primary."
   Super Tuesday is the multi-state primary on March 6. Voters in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia go to the polls and select the GOP presidential nominee.
   Story courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News