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Well Known Illinois Republicans Contributing to Mitt Romney’s Campaign

Though some GOP primary candidates are bound to drop before Illinois’ March 20 primary, Mitt Romney’s campaign continues to woo local Republicans as he hopes for a strong finish in the South Carolina primary, after winning the nation’s first two presidential nominating contests.

Romney has found solid support among Illinois’ Republicans and reported raising about $680,000 in Illinois as of Sept. 30, 2011—more than double what second-place fundraiser Texas Governor Rick Perry has netted from state residents.

In December, Rep. Judy Biggert (13th) endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential primary.

“In the state of Illinois, it’s getting down to the point where organization and financial resources will play the most important role,” said Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, Romney’s Illinois campaign chairman.

“Romney has a good opportunity to put all of that together and a good shot to win this thing. I’m going to work very hard to help make that happen.”

Besides a strong fundraising presence in Illinois, Romney’s campaign was the first campaign to file for a place on the Republican primary ballot. Provided there are no snags or mistakes in Romney’s filing, he will have the coveted first position on the ballot.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich secured spots on Illinois ballot Jan. 6, joining Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Perry. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman will not make the Illinois ballot, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

As endorsements for Romney roll in after the Iowa caucuses, such as 2008 Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain on Jan. 4, some of Romney’s most influential Illinois support has come from Republican politicians and business leaders.

Ty Fahner, former Illinois Attorney General and current partner at the law firm Mayer Brown, said he has been supporting Romney since his first run for GOP nominee in 2008, impressed by Romney’s business savvy and perseverance. Romney came in second behind McCain in the last Illinois presidential primary, with less than 30 percent of the vote.

“He’s basically been campaigning since 2008,” said Fahner. “He’s worked hard and raised a lot of money since last time.”

Romney’s business-targeted campaigning strategy has been working in Chicago, said Fahner. Even though the city has been President Obama’s home for years, business leaders across the Chicago metro area are coming out in support of Romney. Fahner said Romney has some support from Illinois Democrats.

Fahner contributed $2,500 to Romney’s campaign in 2011 according to data presented by the Federal Election Commission. He said he, as a business leader, appreciates Romney’s private sector experience and finds Romney sincere and moderate enough to do well in a Democratically leaning state like Illinois.

Romney’s support from members of the business communities across the state is also echoed by Republicans holding elected office, like Rep. Judy Biggert (13th), who represents parts of the south and west suburbs.

Biggert, like many Romney supporters, is looking beyond the primary races to November’s general election. She cites Romney’s appeal to moderates and independents as reasons he could win primary elections in Illinois and elsewhere.

“He’s the strongest candidate on the economy. Regardless of where you live, joblessness is affecting all Americans,” said Biggert. And, “he’s the strongest candidate to go toe-to-toe with the president and win.”

Meanwhile, Romney supporters in Illinois hope to keep his campaign’s momentum going until the third week in March.

“[We’re doing] whatever we can do, even before the primary,” said Biggert, whose office wall is decorated with a Romney campaign poster and a picture of the representative posed with the Massachusetts governor.

“Just talking about him and singing his praises. And really, that’s what its all about.”

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