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Both Bush and Gore Emerge Victorious in Illinois Primary

March 22, 2000|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Al Gore cruised to victory in Illinois' Democratic primary Tuesday while George W. Bush showed some signs of weakness on the Republican side.

Although Bush won, about one-third of GOP voters supported other candidates. Political analysts said the breakdown suggests that Bush is vulnerable, while his campaign conceded that he still has some work to do to win over supporters of former rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

With 64% of precincts reporting, Bush received 319,260 votes and Alan Keyes had 42,665. McCain had 109,690 votes.

On the Democratic side, Gore garnered 340,145 votes, while former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, who also has dropped from the race, had 62,109 votes.

"We may have a little bit of work to do," said John Pastuovic, a spokesman for Bush's Illinois campaign.

Chris Mooney, director of the Illinois Legislative Studies Center at the University of Illinois at Springfield, agreed that Bush has ground to make up. But he cautioned that the Texas governor has plenty of time to woo former McCain supporters and conservative Democrats.

"He can change himself completely. Come October, he could be the centrist candidate and Gore could be the crazy liberal," Mooney said.

For many Illinois voters, the primaries were an exercise in democracy, since Bush and Gore already have won enough convention delegates to lock up the party nominations.

Illinois had 161 Democratic and 74 Republican delegates up for grabs.

Roger Fisher of Champaign said he didn't care that the presidential nomination fight was already settled for both parties, "because I'm for Bush anyway."

The healthy economy under the Clinton-Gore administration helped the vice president.

"I feel satisfied," said Gore supporter Linda Hall, 45, of Oak Park. "I have more money now than ever before, so I want to keep the Democrats in."

Both Gore and Bush visited Illinois before the primary--the vice president Monday and the Texas governor last week.

Some voters missed Bradley and McCain.

"I'm not excited about either of them [Gore and Bush], but my only choice is Gore," said retired teacher Elinor Najita, 63.

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