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Illinois has joined 22 other states holding primaries early in February next year.

Twenty years ago in 1988 the Illinois primary meant something. A group of Southern states had formed Super Tuesday primaries coming right after New Hampshire's. But Illinois was the first large state to test candidates. This benefited our radio and TV stations whose commercials then plagued the rest of us.

Among Democrats, Paul Simon aimed for a brokered convention where party bosses picked the nominee in a smoke-filled room. But the Democrats decided to ban smoking.

Jesse Jackson wanted the people to speak. It's hard to imagine anyone getting a chance to speak when he's around.

Al Gore bought a lot of TV time in the South and was the big winner in Super Tuesday. He then spent $200,000 to gain just 70,000 votes in Illinois.

Republican Pat Robertson also spent a lot of money in the South. He claimed the reason he didn't do well in Super Tuesday was the because of the large voter turnout.

Bob Dole spent $100,000 on a TV show about his life which was aired during the Class A basketball tournament. Dole said that Illinois, where he recovered from war wounds at Northwestern Hospital, would be the "turn-around" state for his campaign. It turned out to be his "turn-off" state because Illinois Republicans preferred Vice President Bush.

Bush who said he would be the "education president" declined an invitation to speak to the Illinois Education Association.

The change in today's Illinois primary was accomplished by a rare show of intra-party cooperation. Proposed by Democrat speaker Madigan and given Senate approval by Democrat Jones, it was signed by Democrat governor Blagojevitch. Who says that Democracy can't function?

Bill Linneman



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