Romney wins Illinois

JTA

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney handily won the Illinois primary, consolidating his status as frontrunner in the race for the GOP presidential contest.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, won 47 percent of the vote with 98 percent of votes counted in the Tuesday primary.

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Rick Santorum the former Pennsylvania senator, trailed with 35 percent of the vote, and Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House of Representatives speaker got 8 percent, coming behind Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who got 9 percent of the vote.

Santorum had emerged from a broad pack of conservatives to challenge Romney from the right, and he and the others show no sign of leaving the contest.

Romney’s win, however, seemed to make the moderate’s hold in the nomination inevitable.

Brad Schneider defeated Ilya Sheyman in the Democratic primary in the 10th district, comprising parts of Chicago and its northern suburbs, an area with a substantial Jewish population.

It was a race that pitted two pro-Israel Jews against one another. Sheyman, who immigrated from the former Soviet Union as a child, had the backing of grassroots activists on the left of the party, while Schneider, who has long been involved in Jewish communal affairs, had the backing of the Democratic establishment.

Schneider now faces incumbent Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.) in November.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), one of the most pro-Israel congressmen in the Congresional Black Caucus, easily beat back a challenge from a former congresswoman, Debbie Halvorson, in the 2nd district, comprising Chicago’s southern suburbs.

In the 3rd district, comprising southwestern Chicago and its suburbs, Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier, came in a distant third in the GOP primary, garnering 11 percent. The district is considered Democratic-safe, and Jones had been repudiated by the state Republican Party.