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Taking a chance A group in Michigan wants to change the state’s constitution to allow more casino gambling. According to the Detroit Free Press, the group is proposing new casinos in eight locations, including downtown Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Two politicians, two views of the economy Wisconsin primary voters head to the polls tomorrow. The Boston Herald has a look at one campaign event over the weekend that featured both Mitt Romney and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Though they shared a stage, they both offered different views on the state of our economy.

Still on strike It’s the eighth week of a strike for about 250 Red Cross Workers in Northern Ohio. The workers help run mobile blood collection units for the charity. Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports there’s still no sign of a deal in the strike that started in February.

Engineers in demand The Detroit Free Press reports on better job prospects for engineers. At a recent engineering conference in Metro Detroit, the paper reports open jobs outnumbered attendees nearly six to one.

Drill now, drill where? Some state-owned land in Michigan could be opened up for oil and gas drilling, according to partner station Michigan Radio.

Hello, tax revenue Bloomberg News reports cities in Michigan that collect income tax are seeing a windfall this year.

Emergency manager out, for now The mayor and city council are back in charge in the city of Flint, and the state-appointed emergency manager is out. A judge ruled the panel that reviewed Flint’s finances violated open meetings laws. It’s the latest setback for governor Snyder’s emergency manager law. Partner station Michigan Radio reports the governor will appeal the ruling to a higher court.

Mitt’s win Mitt Romney had a convincing win in the Illinois primary yesterday, but voter turnout in the state was the lowest it’s been in decades.

Can’t stop Smith A Democratic state lawmaker in Illinois overwhelmingly won his primary race yesterday, despite being charged last week with accepting a bribe.

Europe is so in Illinois governor Pat Quinn is heading to Belgium. That makes two Midwest governors in Europe this week.

Just plane sad The Ohio National Guard is making its case to try to save its fleet of C-27J cargo planes. Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports that nearly 800 jobs will be lost if the plane is discontinued as planned.

Illinoisans are casting their votes today in the state’s Republican primary. If polls are correct, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is heading for his first blow out victory in a Midwestern state. 

He had unexpectedly close contests with former Sen. Rick Santorum in Michigan and Ohio, which made the Illinois primary more important than most political watchers thought it would be.

Illinois has 54 delegates up for grabs, fewer than Ohio, but more than Michigan. Romney has a strong organization in the state, while Santorum failed to file full slates of delegate candidates in four Congressional districts. If he were to upset Romney, he could win no more than 44 delegates, the Chicago Tribune said. 

During Monday’s campaigning, Santorum and Romney exchanged barbs about the economy. Santorum, who made appearances in northwest Illinois, said he “didn’t care about the unemployment rate” and said the race was about smaller government, individual and social freedom.

At his own campaign stop in Peoria, Romney said, “I do care about the unemployment rate. It does bother me. I want to get people back to work.”

Tuesday’s primary also will see some contested Congressional races. Check our partner station WBEZ for full election results on the air and on line.

Our friends at PBS NewsHour had this analysis of the Illinois race. Here are anchor Judy Woodruff and political editor Christina Bellantoni.

Republican presidential candidates are making their final push in Illinois before tomorrow’s primary. They’ve flooded the airwaves with advertisements. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney alone has spent nearly $4 million in the state, according to the Chicago Tribune.

But Illinois firefighters have countered with their own anti-Romney ad, paid for by their union, the International Association of Firefighters.

The ad focuses in part on SAFER, a government program that provided $10.2 million in grants to Illinois communities last year to hire or retrain firefighters.

The IAFF endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, and ran commercials in that campaign criticizing Republican nominee John McCain.

The firefighters’ effort may not make much difference. Romney appears to have a wide lead over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Illinois.  Public Policy Polling says Romney is ahead by 45 percent to 30 percent for Santorum, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pulling in 12 percent and Texas congressman Ron Paul receiving support from 10 percent of likely voters.

Take a look at the ad and tell us what you think. And tomorrow, be sure to check our partner station WBEZ in Chicago for extensive coverage of the Illinois primary.

Next Tuesday is the illinois Republican primary. But today, Illinois is the center of the political universe (not that it doesn’t always think it is).

Two Republican presidential candidates and President Obama are all in the state today, looking for votes, and in the case of the president, money.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum makes two stops in Arlington Heights today, with three downstate on Saturday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hit a Rosemont restaurant Friday morning, with more stops planned ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Obama, meanwhile, spoke to a fundraising luncheon in Chicago before heading to Atlanta.

Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich was in Illinois on Thursday. His performance in the state could determine whether the GOP race narrows to Romney and Santorum, or whether it remains a three-way contest.

 

The political world didn’t think the Republican primary season would last this long. But after Rick Santorum’s victories last night in Mississippi and Alabama, eyes are now turning to Illinois, which holds its primary next Tuesday. 

A big question about Illinois is whether it will be the last stand for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — or whether it keep him in the race longer.

He finished second behind Santorum in both southern primaries, and he is heading straight for Illinois for two days of campaigning. Gingrich told a Chicago radio station that he’s staying in the race until the August convention.

Said Gingrich: “When I was on a roll and Rick wasn’t, I was for Rick getting out of the race, too. And he correctly said no. And I’ve learned from him so I liked his answer.”

As he did in Michigan and Ohio, Mitt Romney and the Super PAC that’s backing him are expected to saturate the airwaves.

The Chicago Tribune reports the pair are pouring another $1.35 million in purchasing advertising time, even though the candidate isn’t expected in the state until Monday. That’s on top of $2.26 million already spent there.

Santorum doesn’t have that kind of budget, but conservative counties in southern Illinois seem ready made for his followers. He’s scheduled to hold a “Rally for Rick” in suburban Arlington Heights, Ill., on Friday.

 

 

Gassed up Ohio will get a new $900 million natural gas processing plant, as the state’s boom in shale-gas drilling continues.

You’re next, Illinois Mitt Romney’s poor showing in Alabama and Missisippi seems to have heightened the importance of next week’s primary in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reports the Romney campaign just bought another $1.35 million in ads in the Chicago market.

Politics behind consent Yesterday was a big day in the city of Detroit, as Michigan governor Rick Snyder released a proposed consent agreement to handle the city’s budget crisis. Partner station Michigan Radio takes a look at the politics behind the proposal.

Mining a new strategy Even though a controversial piece of legislation to allow mining in northern Wisconsin failed to get enough votes, and the company that wanted the mine has pulled out, some state Republicans are still fighting for the cause.

Ohio gets the bronze The Labor Department reports that Ohio had the third-largest increase in jobs in January. Only New York and Texas saw more jobs created in the first month of the year.

Camera-ready Partner station WBEZ looks into Chicago’s volatile, but growing film industry.

Of course, Michigan and Ohio will always be rivals — some might even say enemies on the football field, at least. But when it comes to politics, these two Great Lakes states are sisters under the skin. 

Last night’s Super Tuesday primary showed just how alike the two states are.

As he did last week in Michigan, Mitt Romney again squeaked out a victory in Ohio’s Super Tuesday primary. As he did last week, Rick Santorum showed that his strength lies with the most conservative Republicans, many in rural areas and in smaller towns.

And both men face the prospect that no matter what they did in the Michigan and Ohio primaries, President Barack Obama could beat either one come November.

Some tidbits from last night’s returns:

  • As in Michigan, Santorum led Romney in polls conducted in the weeks before the Ohio vote, only to see Romney close the gap and take a narrow victory. That might suggest polls are wrong, but it also shows that the Romney campaign believes in the “swoop and run” theory. It waits until the end to marshall its resources, and then pelts voters with ads and candidate appearances. So far, it’s worked in Michigan and Ohio.
  • Endorsements make a difference, for both candidates. In Michigan, Romney secured the endorsement of Gov. Rick Snyder about 10 days before the election. That helped with conservatives and moderates. In Ohio, Santorum was endorsed by the state’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, who switched his support from Romney. Even though Santorum ended up losing, the margin was much closer than it might have been without a high profile endorsement.
  • Shifts in population meant candidates had to get out of their comfort zones. It was easy in the past for Republicans to focus on suburban Oakland County, Mich., and Kent County, which encompasses Grand Rapids. But there are now Republicans flung all over the state, including the Upper Peninsula. Santorum campaigned there and nearly got every county. While Ohio’s biggest county remains Cuyahoga, candidates can’t only campaign there and expect to win. Franklin County, around Columbus, and Hamilton County in southern Ohio are must wins, too.

With two big Midwest states finished, the spotlight in our region will now turn to the illinois primary on March 20. The Chicago Sun-Times points out that Santorum went to high school in Mundelein, making him the only candidate with ties there. Will that give him any edge?

Super Tuesday is here, and political pundits say that if Mitt Romney wins Ohio, the Republican primary race will be over. 

That’s a big “if” and of course, the former Massachusetts governor has not yet locked up the delegates he will need.

But a Romney victory over Rick Santorum would give him a moral boost, assuming it is by a large enough margin. There is no guarantee of that, however.

At the end of the day Monday, the race for Ohio’s 66 delegates still seemed to be a statistical tie. Romney and Santorum made six collective stops in Ohio yesterday. Santorum battled perceptions that Romney is more electable than he is; Romney aimed at President Obama’s policies. 

Our partner station ideastream and our friends at PBS Newshour will have plenty of political coverage. Washington Week host Gwen Ifill posted a list of five things to look out for in tonight’s results.

And, some people are already looking past Super Tuesday to the Illinois primary later this month. Check out what our partner WBEZ in Chicago has to say.

We’ll have results and analysis on Wednesday.

 

With Super Tuesday primaries looming next week, the political world’s eyes are on Ohio, one of the richest prizes on the big day. 

(Okay, there are a lot of eyes on the Arnold Sports Festival, but he’s a Republican too, after all.)

On Friday, the latest poll from Quinnipiac University declared the Ohio primary too close to call between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Pennsylvania’s former Sen. Rick Santorum.

It showed Santorum with 35 percent of likely Republican voters, and Romney at 31 percent. On Monday, Santorum had a 36 percent to 29 percent lead, a day before the Michigan primary. About 34 percent of Ohioans surveyed said they could still change their minds

“At this point, the Buckeye State is too close to call and is clearly a two-man race between Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mitt Romney,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“A third of the electorate say they still might change their mind. With five days until Super Tuesday, they certainly will be exposed to enough negative television ads to provide fodder for those who might want to switch – or switch off.” 

There’s also support for the two less-visible candidates. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 17 percent, with 12 percent for Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

ABC News reported on a never-seen video that showed Romney in 2002, boasting about federal funds he had attracted for Massachusetts. Our friends at PBS NewsHour say the video has reignited debate over which candidate is the biggest Washington insider.

Candidates can’t focus all their efforts in Ohio as they could in Michigan, which received a 10-day dose of attention. That resulted in $7.6 million in advertising spending ahead of the state’s primary this week.

According to our partner Michigan Radio, Romney’s campaign spent $1.5 million, while a pro-Romney Super Pac spent nearly $2 million. Santorum spend just under $1 million, and a Super Pac spent over $1 million on his behalf.

Breaking down the numbers, Romney and his Super Pac spent about $8.45 for each vote the former Massachusetts governor received in the primary. Santorum and his Super Pac spent about $5.81 per primary vote in Michigan. Third place finisher Ron Paul spent a relatively frugal 48 cents per vote.

We’ll leave you for the weekend with this little tune that’s familiar to all Ohioans.

(It’s) Round on the end and “Hi” in the middle.
Tell me if you know.
Don’t you think that’s a cute little riddle
Round on the end and “Hi” in the middle
You can find it on the map if you look high and low.
The O’s are round, it’s high in the middle. O-H-I-O That’s the riddle!
Round on the end and “Hi” in the middle.
O-HI-O!