Obama, McCain win Illinois vote

By Paolo Cisneros

Illinois voters selected Barack Obama and John McCain as their desired candidates for the 2008 presidential election, Tuesday.

Obama claimed 64 percent of the state’s Democratic vote, 33 percent more than second place finisher, Hillary Clinton.

On the Republican side, McCain garnered 47 percent of the vote, beating both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee who finished with 29 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

The news drew excitement from local Democrats and Republicans who look forward to focusing on the November presidential election.

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, said that although Obama was the consistent favorite to win Illinois, his victory comes as the result of hard work and dedication to the state.

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“Any candidate that’s running doesn’t sit back and just expect things to happen without doing a lot of work,” Jakobsson said. “(Obama) laid the groundwork, he did the job, and I think the people of Illinois have shown their appreciation for what he has down for us and put their faith in what he can do for us.”

University students involved in the Obama campaign took pride in the Senator’s victory as well.

“We’re really excited (about the results),” said Katie Dawson, president of the College Democrats. “We worked a lot with Students for Obama, and we’re really proud that he was able to do so well in his home state.”

Other Democrats expressed their faith in the Democratic Party, regardless of who goes on to win the party’s nomination.

“We have the advantage of having two very good candidates in Obama and Clinton,” said Samuel Smucker, a local Democrat and candidate for Champaign County Board.

Local McCain supporters relished the news as well.

Matt Filter, senior in LAS, is president of the newly founded UIUC Chapter of Students for McCain.

“We originally supported Rudy Guiliani, but when he dropped out of the race we took a vote among our executive board and decided to support John McCain,” he said.

The victory in Illinois, Filter added, is a step in the right direction for the candidate they believe is the most qualified for president.

“Winning Illinois is definitely big for McCain,” said Filter. “It’s one of the key national states, and he’ll be happy to have won it as well.”

Looking ahead to the November election, Filter said he foresees victory in Illinois as a more viable reality for McCain if Hillary Clinton receives the Democratic nomination.

“If Obama turns out to be the nominee, I think competing in Illinois will be very difficult since Obama has such a base here, but if Clinton takes it, I think Illinois will be very much in play,” he said.

Cynthia McKinney won the state’s Green Party election with a large majority of the vote.

“We (the Green Party) need to keep trying to get our message out to the American people,” said Tom Abram, press officer for the local Green Party affiliate. “We offer real change which is something that’s become a buzzword in this campaign.”

Now that Super Tuesday and the hype that comes with it are finally behind them, candidates and their supporters are free to begin focusing on where their campaigns go next.

“It’s going to be really busy, obviously, but we’re really excited,” Dawson said.