Illinois primary not a focus for UI republicans

BY KRISTEN EAST | MARCH 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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Local Republicans are keeping an eye on today's GOPnominating contest in Illinois, but few are getting deeply involved, despite a large number of Land of Lincoln transplants at the University of Iowa.

"There's a good number — but not a majority — of [College Republicans] from Illinois," said Kelsey Boehm, the president of the UI College Republicans. "We do pay a lot of attention to the results of other states."

Illinois is the top feeder state for the UI, bringing in 1,524 first-year students for the fall of 2011.

Boehm said UI students were more interested and involved in the Iowa caucuses because of their relevancy.

"The race has been drawn out, and I think this will be an important result to watch, and it will have an impact on who will be the eventual nominee," she said.

One Republican leader in Illinois said the primary should be an important issue for students even if they're out of the state attending school.

"For Illinois students attending the UI, it would be very important that they're knowledgeable about who's running," said Mick Paskiewicz, the head of the Illinois College Republicans Federation.

Paskiewicz said students should invest in their native state, even while away, especially because many Illinois residents have moved to other states.

"A lot of people do come home [from college] to their own communities to vote," he said. "Students need to get involved with the candidate that they like."

However, this doesn't appear to be the case at the UI. Boehm said she wasn't aware of any UI students traveling to Illinois today to vote.

Tim Hagle — a UI associate professor of political science — said it's especially important for students to participate this year in the Illinois primary.

"This time [the results] seem to make more of a difference, and one wouldn't want to miss out on being a part of that process," he said.

The 69 delegates up for grabs in Illinois are important because there isn't a clear front-runner in this election cycle, Hagle noted.

"By the time you get to this point in the process, there is a clear front-runner," he said. "[Mitt] Romney is in the lead, but some people are still arguing that it's not certain that he'll be the nominee."

Though the Illinois primary comes at an important point in the delegate race, Hagle said, winning every state is just as important for the candidates.

"It's not just that it's Illinois in particular but that every state up to this point has been important," he said. "[Romney] hasn't been winning all the contests. Every one of these states is important until you see a large shift in delegates."

Paskiewicz agreed, noting that the Republicans' delegate race all boils down to the general election in November.

"Win or lose, after Tuesday, we're all going to come together for the real election in November," he said. "Right now, we're just working to gauge interest and get people motivated for the real fight."

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