The Illinois state legislature is poised to pass legislation moving the state's primary election to February 5th. Despite some rhetoric about enhancing Illinois' political influence, the real motive is obvious: helping Barack Obama secure the Democratic nomination. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Moving to boost U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's White House bid and make Illinois voters more relevant, the Senate gave final approval Tuesday to legislation that advances the state's 2008 presidential primary by more than a month to Feb. 5.
Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said he will sign the measure, which also would put primary races from the county level to the legislature, Congress and the U.S. Senate on the same fast track, as well as future contests for governor and other statewide offices. [....]
Though Democrats pushed the Illinois primary date change as a way to help Obama, his advantage in the state is likely to mean rivals such as U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) spend a minimum of time and money here.
Instead, the presidential contest in Illinois could be more heated on the Republican side, where no candidate enjoys a distinct advantage and state GOP members are divided in their support.
"I think it's ironic that a move to help Obama among the Democrats is going to pay dividends for Republicans," said Andy McKenna, the Republican state chairman. "At least among the campaigns we've spoken to, the indications are at this point that this is a state where they will be paying heavy interest."
Hillary Clinton's birth and childhood spent in Illinois evidently earn her no local loyalty. After all, she now a New York senator who sometimes speaks with a Southern accent.