Supporters of the Feb. 5 primary date, which was proposed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, say it is designed to bolster the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and give the state a greater say in the presidential nomination process, the Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register reported Thursday.
"Illinois is the fifth-largest state in the country," Blagojevich said in a statement released to announce the signing of House Bill 426. "The people who live here deserve to play a bigger role in deciding who the presidential candidates will be."
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, said in a statement that the primary date move "is not something that (Obama) actively lobbied for," but the senator "welcomes the opportunity for his home state to play a role in the nominating process and he is grateful for the base of support he has from friends, family and supporters in Illinois."
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]