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Ill. speaker suggests earlier 2008 primary

Jan. 11, 2007 at 5:17 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives is calling for the state to push up its 2008 presidential primary election to early February.

Speaker Michael Madigan suggested Wednesday the state move up its primary from the usual mid-March date to give Illinois greater influence in the choosing of presidential candidates and to add a potential boost to favorite son U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., if he decides to run for the nation's highest office, the Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register reported Thursday.

"It'll help him in terms of the delegate count and in the national media reporting on who's ahead and who's behind," Madigan said. The speaker said the move could also help Obama's fundraising pull.

Madigan said his suggestion does not constitute a formal endorsement of Obama.

"I haven't rendered an endorsement yet, but it's rather apparent that I'm trying to help his candidacy," he said.

Madigan said he will introduce a bill to change the 2008 primary date at the start of the legislative session.

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