Five Republicans compete for nomination for Illinois governor; Iraq vet seeks House seat
CHICAGO – With their party reeling from scandal and infighting, five Republican candidates competed Tuesday for the nomination for governor of Illinois.Separately, a former Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs in a 2004 grenade attack in Iraq sought the Democratic nomination for the House seat occupied by retiring GOP Rep. Henry Hyde.With Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich potentially vulnerable over corruption allegations against his administration, Republicans fought hard for the gubernatorial nomination.The primary came as a jury deliberated in the federal corruption case against Illinois’ last GOP governor, George Ryan, who is blamed for his party’s recent collapse.Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the former head of the Illinois Republican Party and the only Republican holding statewide office, was considered the front-runner for governor but was hit with allegations from her GOP rivals that she was part of a corrupt network of political insiders.She ran against Jim Oberweis, a dairy owner and investment manager, and three other candidates. Blagojevich was heavily favored over a former Chicago alderman for the Democratic nomination.In the Chicago suburbs, Republicans competed in a six-way primary for a House seat that was held by the GOP for decades before Democrat Melissa Bean won it two years ago.In another race in suburban Chicago, former Army Maj. L. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq war veteran recruited by national Democratic leaders, competed in a three-way race for the nomination for Hyde’s seat in Congress. Hyde is retiring after 32 years.Duckworth has said she privately disagreed with President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq but still volunteered to serve.Dan White, spokesman for the state Board of Elections, said turnout had been light and could fall below the 30 percent that is typical for such elections.Illinois Republicans have seen their political fortunes decline sharply over the past few years.Ryan left office after one term and was indicted on corruption charges. His problems contributed to the defeat of the next GOP candidate for governor, who was also named Ryan.The party’s Senate nominee two years ago dropped out over lurid sexual allegations in his divorce. In desperation, party leaders brought in someone from Maryland, conservative commentator Alan Keyes, who failed spectacularly.Now Democrats control the governor’s office, both Senate seats, both chambers of the Legislature and all but one statewide office.Vail, Colorado
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